Shop the fall collection ➔

My young teenage daughter fibbed to me the other day. It wasn’t a whopper, but it was one in an ongoing saga of lies that we’ve dealt with over the past few years.

So, instead of punishing her, I took her to Starbucks for a sugar-laden coffee drink.

Let me explain. We’ve cracked down on every mistruth she’s told before. We’ve grounded her and taken her phone. We’ve talked (ad nauseum) about earning trust. We’ve argued and pleaded. We’ve had her work toward earning trust back.

We’ve done all the things.

Because trusting your teen—especially in this day and age—is important. And if we can’t trust her with the little things, how can we trust her with the big things?

How can we put her behind the wheel of a car or believe she’ll call us when she’s in trouble or tell us if someone is hurting her? How can we send her off to college or on trips without us?

So, the other day, when she got caught, I was exasperated. I was at the end of my rope. I was over it.

RELATED: The Teenage Years Will Break You

When I confided in a friend, she stopped me in my tracks when she quietly said, “Don’t you remember how much we lied to our parents growing up?”

“But that was different,” I immediately responded.

And she laughed because of course I already saw the irony.

So, we talked about the reasons why I lied to my parents when I was growing up. Of course, it was because I felt like they could not relate to my life. And that I knew they would say no to me. And I was embarrassed to tell them certain things about boys or my friends or where I was going. And that I didn’t want them to be disappointed in me. And my personal favorite, I simply didn’t want to receive a lecture (apparently psychologists call this conflict avoidance).

I was different from my parents, though. Except lying between teenagers and their parents has been going on since the dawn of time.

In my mind, I created a personal narrative that justified my lying to my parents back in the day way more than my daughter’s lying to me now. I said to myself, “I didn’t lie about small things,” or “I talked to them about the important stuff,” but the truth is, sometimes I lied simply because it was easier.

I was caught in an ongoing circle of Hell with my daughter and the lies. I was looking for them all the time. I constantly asked if she was telling me the truth. I had to stop myself from checking up on her all the time.

This was never the relationship I wanted with one of my kids.

So, when I caught her in the last fib, instead of my normal flipping out or incessant lecture or off-the-cuff punishment, I told her we would talk about it the next day. After she came home from a long day of school, I loaded her up in the car and took her to the closest Starbucks. I let her buy whatever she wanted, and we sat down.

We chatted about her day and the plans for the weekend. She told me she was frustrated with her math teacher and I talked about a meeting that went wrong.

And then I told her that I used to lie to my parents, too, sometimes. I told her how lying got me in more trouble than it was worth, and how it hurt my relationship with my parents when I got caught, and now, looking back, how I could have done things differently. I explained that I wish I had more courage with my dad, and that I believed my mom when she told me I could talk to her.

RELATED: Dear Parents, This is What Your Teenagers Need You to Know About These Tough Years

I then talked about the different ways I wanted to trust her moving forward. I wanted to believe that she could be trusted behind the wheel of the car, out on dates, or with her friends, but that trust was a two-way street.

And I told her that no one can ever be trusted if they aren’t given opportunities to be trustworthy.

I explained that I wanted to take away some of the reasons she’s feeling the need to lie. I would back off on the barrage of questions and lectures if she promised to be a little more open and honest. I told her that I wanted to be there to teach and guide, instead of punish and blame.

There was a halfway point, but we’d both have to stretch ourselves to get there.

She nodded her head and didn’t say much, but my heart felt a little lighter. I’ve found out lately that so much of the suckiness in the teenage years is getting caught in a cycle, doing the same thing over and over again. Take away the friction, and oftentimes you can move on.

RELATED: The Teenage Years Are Rough, But Just You Wait

There is nothing more difficult in these challenging teenage years than finding the balance of your kid knowing there will be repercussions for their actions while also keeping an open line of communication.

The end goal is to ensure my daughters always know they can come to me—even if they might be grounded afterward.

Struggling with your teenager? We love this book The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults

 

This post may contain affiliate links. Her View From Home earns a small commission off the sale of these items.

Whitney Fleming

Whitney is a mom of three teen daughters, a freelance writer, and co-partner of the site parentingteensandtweens.com You can find her on Facebook at WhitneyFlemingWrites.

My Babies Are Growing Up, but I Will Never Outgrow Them

In: Kids, Motherhood
Five kids sitting next to fire place, color photo

I spent nearly a decade birthing babies and subsequently breastfeeding them. I have been pregnant so many times I am not sure if my love for mismatched food combinations intertwined with my tendencies toward irritability is from hormone level fluctuations or if this is just who I am now. Either way, my body was not mine for enough years that I still think twice before taking any over-the-counter medication or consuming slices of deli meat. Are those even pregnancy-related concerns these days or did I just show my age?  Anyway. They say you know when your family is complete, and...

Keep Reading

Rett Syndrome Is Only Half of Our Family’s Story

In: Living, Motherhood
Little girls hold hands

Anxiety. Depression. Perfectionism. Guilt. An over willingness to please. Feelings of neglect. These are just a few of the issues experts warn parents to look for in children who have disabled or neurodiverse siblings. There are certainly areas of concern to watch for, but I worry that all too often we ignore the positives. In many ways, our typically developing children can grow and flourish because of the challenges faced by their families. I know because I watch it happen every day. My 4-year-old daughter JJ has Rett Syndrome. This is a rare, progressive neurological disorder that manifests in early...

Keep Reading

Setting Boundaries with Toxic Family Is Hard but Worth It

In: Motherhood
Family walking in water

Breaking generational chains is one of the most amazing, beautiful, and beneficial things I’ve done for my family. My children are happy and healthy and know they are loved unconditionally. I continue to heal my inner child and find my worth. I feel so much relief knowing my children won’t go through the trauma and pain my husband and I did.  But breaking those chains, establishing boundaries, going no contact with abusive family members, explaining to my children that they can’t see our relatives who they love so dearly because they were hurting us. That is hard. That is painful....

Keep Reading

As a Mom, I’m Always On

In: Motherhood
Mother and two kids at home

Yesterday, my kids made to-do lists as I do, they pretended to be Mom in their play, and they wanted to look up a bazillion and one things on my phone. These little humans are watching me. They are taking in all my actions, one by one. And it’s exhausting. From 6 a.m. until 8 p.m. (or later), I have to be “on.” I am expected to watch what I say (no cussing), be careful what I watch (no inappropriate memes or shows), stay off my phone as much as possible, and, of course, enjoy every moment and be present...

Keep Reading

Dear School Bus Driver, My Whole World Is In Your Care

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy standing on school bus stairs, color photo

To the bus driver I do not know, You don’t understand how hard it is to let go of my child’s hand in the morning and hand him over to you. You don’t know how long it took me to make this decision . . . to let him ride the bus.  Some may say it’s brave or courageous to trust another with your child’s life. I sometimes think it can be daring but also really unwise.  RELATED: Every Time I Leave My Child With Autism in the Care of Someone Else, I Worry In today’s world, we must worry...

Keep Reading

Goodbye to Girlhood Innocence

In: Motherhood
Little girl walking down road

She loved pickles and pudding and rocks that glittered. And forts that touched the ceiling. She mastered shadow puppets on night walls and Carol Burnett’s Tarzan yell in lieu of bedtime stories. In her innocent mind, the bogey man hid in the closet because he was scared of her. Thus she coaxed him out nightly with “shh . . . it’s okay, you’re alright.” She mailed letters to the mailman with sticky hearts on both sides and Cheerios in the envelope. RELATED: I Wish I Could Freeze This Moment of Innocence She regularly asked our 96-year-old neighbor Mr. Grayson if...

Keep Reading

Every Time I Blinked, They Grew—and It Was So Beautiful

In: Kids, Motherhood
Boys kissing mother black and white photo

I thought we were prepared, but we weren’t. Not even close. Not in the tiniest, least little bit. When we hugged our precious, oldest boy and left him to start college just a few hours away, we didn’t know what was coming. The waves of emotion, of loss, of pride, of accomplishment. They say not to blink because your kids will grow up. But despite how much we may not want to, it’s involuntary. We have to blink. They don’t talk about this part. No one tells you what to do when you open your eyes again. RELATED: I Blinked and...

Keep Reading

I Am An Autism Mom

In: Motherhood
Autism heart puzzle piece symbol in hands

I have always known what kind of mom I wanted to be. The mom who has the best after-school snacks. The mom who’s always ready with a warm hug and a kind word. The mom who makes jokes that get the kids to roll their eyes but laugh hysterically when they repeat them to their friends. I wanted to be a super involved mom—there for every activity, every field trip, every adventure. We all have our motherhood labels, usually defined by our children’s current hobbies or seasons of life. A kindergarten mom. A PTA mom. A scouting mom. A soccer/lacrosse/baseball/hockey...

Keep Reading

The Boss Around Here Is Tough

In: Motherhood
Tired mom with baby drinking coffee

I’ve recently changed careers. I was so used to working a regular 8-5 job over the last 13+ years. Sure, there were some late nights, plenty of obstacles, and a multitude of frustrations, but this career change has been life-changing, to say the least. We’ve all worked with difficult people before. I should be used to this, but this new boss I have has been nothing short of tyrannical.  Before I’ve even had my morning coffee I’m at his beck and call. You never know when he’s going to need something, and I have to be ready at all times....

Keep Reading

To the Homeschool Mom Trying Her Best

In: Motherhood
Homeschool family

Homeschool mothers are their own worst critics. The subject doesn’t often come up, but occasionally someone will discover I was homeschooled. My mother taught my siblings and me at home from third grade until I graduated high school. Most people don’t really care about my education before college, but homeschool mothers pepper me with questions. What curriculum did you use? What was your schedule like? Did you have issues getting into college? What did you love about it? What would you have changed? I know why they ask. They have a list of all the things they have heard about...

Keep Reading