Friday, March 16, 2012

The Lying Game

"Honesty is the best policy."

"The truth shall set us free."

"Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters."

There are countless adages. There are also countless ways a tween can display her disdain about those adages. Rolled eyes, heavy sighs, shoulder shrugs, or simply a blank stare. In the court of tween, there are far worse crimes than perjury.

We were very fortunate when my daughter was younger. Whether it was superior parenting on my part (a lovely but unlikely thought) or a fabulous family daycare provider or terrific teachers or genetics or pure dumb luck, she was a cheerful and compliant child. And, in truth, she is still fairly easy. We haven't had to worry about the big three yet: drugs, alcohol, sex.

But, my daughter's no saint either. I can't put my finger on any specific falsehoods, per se, but we've certainly seen our share of lies of omission. "I forgot to tell you ..." she'll say. Or, "Oh, I didn't remember that rule." Or, "It slipped my mind." Or, "I lost track of time."

There's a new sneakiness that we have to keep an eye on. It's tempting to crack down and try to seize complete control. But, totalitarian regimes rarely last. "Because I said so," lost its power long ago. And, in all honesty, I run out of steam trying to police her long before she runs out of steam trying to get away with things.

Why do tweens and teens lie? Sometimes, certainly, it's to cover bad behavior or to attain something they want (but aren't supposed to get). Sometimes, I think, it's to seem cool in front of their friends. And sometimes, maybe it's just another tool to help them feel in control and independent. Just as they are trying on new hairstyles and clothes, they are experimenting with their personality. Who are they going to be when they grow up? And, more importantly, how fast can they get there?

Let's assume that fibbing is just another developmental stage then. In that case, hopefully, you won't be completely appalled by the following Twitter feeds, in which teens not only lied, but are bragging about it to their peers. Then again, maybe the boasts themselves are lies. Is that like a double negative? If you lie about a lie are you really telling the truth? (What a tangled web teens weave!)

Here goes ...

"Oh yeah, we just watched a few movies ..."

"I didn't take the car last night."

"Everybody failed the test, mom."

"Nothing to worry about between me and him, we're just friends ..."

"I've already done my homework."

"It's not mine. It's my friend's."

"Can I stay home? I don't feel good."

"They don't give report cards anymore!"

"I can't hear you. I'll call you back."

"I don't know how those condoms got in my pocket."

"I swear if you get me this I won't ask for anything else."

That last one is sadly familiar to me (and to my wallet). The rest, happily, I have yet to encounter. And, I'd like to think I never will. But, in all honesty ...

You can read more of these feeds (if you really want to) at #LiesIveToldMyParents.

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