Lost About the Lying Situation...

Updated on July 02, 2013
J.S. asks from Georgetown, TX
17 answers

My SO and I have different parenting styles regarding certain things; however, we both just want what is right for our LOs. For the most part I do try to compromise with him regarding these differences. For example – he doesn’t believe it is important to sit down for dinner as a family. So I don’t get mad at him if he isn’t around or is doing something else. Frankly it’s easier to teach my LOs manners when he isn’t around =)

But I am at a complete loss with another situation. My oldest is 5 years old. She is really well behaved (for the most part). The thing is, the last couple of months I’ve caught her in a couple of lies. There are usually two scenarios: 1) I will ask her a question about something. She will (no idea why) tell me something that doesn’t make sense. So I question her about it, not because I expected that she lied – I just want to understand what she’s telling me. But then I realize that she did lie, and so then she gets punished, or 2) I catch her in an outright lie. Now here is the issue. Her Dad thinks that I shouldn’t be questioning her at all. He thinks that I am making her not trust me enough to tell me the truth and I should just take her for her word. Frankly, he truly believes that she doesn’t lie, so he never thinks about questioning her about anything. Whereas again, I’ve catch her in a lie, can usually tell 99% of the time when she is lying. He knows I’ve caught her in a lie – heck, he was there when she lied to my face and the only thing he did was try to defend her lying only to admit later that he knew she was lying. What?!?! Can someone please explain this? I don’t even know how to talk to him about this... ugh.

And just in case some of you are wondering my daughter and I have a really good relationship. I know this might sound bad but sometimes I think he gets jealous of our closeness and he tries to make me the bad guy =( Not on purpose mind you, I just don’t think he realizes what he is doing.

What can I do next?

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So What Happened?

We are actually going to have a chat about it. When I said "I didn't know how to talk to him" didn't mean we were not going to. I just wanted some insight into his viewpoint from others who might have experienced his mindset. Thank you to those who did not pick apart my word choice "my daughter, etc." When I talk to other people about MY daughter, I don't typically say OUR daughter in conversation - does that indicate something? Really? I thought it was just a manner of speaking. Wow. Anyhow, thanks for all the thoughts. We do tell her (see the word "we" - sorry, just had to throw that one in there =) do stress telling the truth is better and we love her no matter what. I do agree that perhaps we stress the punishment for lying more than the reward for telling the truth. Thank you for those who pointed that out. I love my SO - we are planning to get married. It freaks me out (not in a bad way) but because I can't believe I'm so lucky that I've found someone who is a good father and my soul mate, despite our differences. Sure we have a few issues - but we've been together for almost as long as we've been parents. We are still learning to do both at the same time. But I wouldn't change it - I would just love to have more insight without being labeled or judged so quickly. Oh - and I do love MY daughters very much. Sometimes they are his - especially when they are being bad =)

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answers from Dallas on

If my kids are caught lying they get punished twice, once for whatever it was they did to get in trouble in the first place and a second time for lying about it.

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Portland on

Yes, you do need to get on the same page. Your SO needs to table those comments (and his opinion) until afterward.

What I do about lying is simple. First, I *never* ever ask a question if I know the answer. "Did you take the cookie?" is a trap if you know she took the cookie. So, first rule: never ask "Did you?" if you know they did. It's better to say "I noticed that you took the cookie. Did you eat it or put it somewhere for later?" Something like this gets past the initial inclination to lie to protect themselves and moves the conversation along to address what needs to be done.

Second, I always talk about 'telling what's real' at this age. Lying and honesty are words that kids sometimes struggle with. So, if I suspect my son is lying to cover up a mistake/misbehavior, I might stop him: "you know, that sounds like a pretend story that maybe you wanted to happen. Right now, I need you to tell me what really happened so we can solve the problem." This is where I am solemn, calm and make sure I have his full attention. "If you are able to tell me what really happened, we can solve the problem and it will make me really happy. Even if you made a mistake, we can fix it, but only if you tell me what's true. If I find out it's not true, then (name your proposed consequence/punishment) and we'll still have to fix the problem."

The other piece of this is that every.single.time my son is at a crossroads and decides to tell the truth, I give him a lot of affirmation. "I'm not happy that you took that cookie, however, I am REALLY HAPPY that you told me the truth. I think what's reasonable is that we have no more treats for today, because you chose to have your early without asking. And I am really glad you told me what's true." Give your daughter lots of positive feedback for the times she does tell the truth, tell her how happy it makes you. No joking-- kids LOVE to make us happy.

And sometimes, even if we ask all the right questions, we will discover we've been lied to. I don't do so much on the questioning, but do certainly let my son know that "if I find out that this isn't really what happened later on, there will be a big consequence." Loss of privileges (esp. favorite things) is helpful here. My son gets some independent playtime after bedtime stories, so losing that privilege (and we treat it as such) is a blow for him. So would be losing tv privileges for a few days, or having his Legos taken away for several days. You know your daughter's 'currency' items/favorite things and what her privileges are, so that's another way to go. She'll still have to make amends for the problem at hand that she lied about, but losing privileges really works well, also. So, unless your punishments for the initial actions are big and out of hand so that she's lying out of fear (and it doesn't sound like they are) go forward with a plan.

My guess is that your SO will have his eyes opened when she lies to him about something he thinks is important.

14 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Having dinner as a family will help your daughter MORE in life than all the punishment/discipline for bad behaviors.

To me...the fact that you are not having dinner as a family is a bigger issue here than catching your little one in lies. She is only 5.

We had a big school" Parenting Night" last year facilitated by a marriage and family therapist. The entire night was devoted to the topic of "Family Dinnertime". She came with piles of statistics/studies that prove the effectiveness of family dinnertime. It isn't about the food...it isn't about which meal you eat TOGETHER. It is about the teaching,talking,sharing,laughing and fun you have together around the table. She gave us lots of ideas of how to make the meal fun and a time for teaching(not in lecturing form though)

As for the lying. In our family we talk about the importance of trust and reward them with lots of praise when they tell the truth when they made a poor choice. Punishment for every little thing will make your kids lie to get out of getting in trouble. Kids will lie to your face simply to avoid the punishment.

Try to help her tell the truth...don't make her fear the truth. Don't focus so much on the punishments for bad behaviors. Reward the good behaviors often when you see them...the bad behaviors tend to be few and far between when you switch the approach.

Talk to your husband about the new game change in your approach. Tell him you expect a family meal each day together and he can pick which meal. Tell him you will relax more about the punishing and ask him how you both should approach these bad behaviors. Ask him how he thinks you both can contribute in positive disciplining your daughter.

Try taking a parenting class together..or reading a book together. It sometimes helps hearing input from an outside source.

Good luck and best wishes.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Sorry - if my husband and I were NOT on the same page about parenting and discipline??! it would be a HUGE problem for me. When we do have problems/disagreements about parenting - we COMMUNICATE with each other.

Family dinners were and are a MUST for me. We are a FAMILY! If he doesn't want to participate as a family member? Why the heck is he still there? Really? What's the point in having a family if you don't care about the family unit? Did you not talk about this BEFORE you had kids? Religion....discipline...schooling/education...all these things should be talked about BEFORE you have kids....

At the age of 5 - most kids are learning MORE about boundaries, stories, reality vs. fiction/make believe. How do you punish her for lying? Does SHE understand she's telling a lie? Or is she avoiding punishment and telling a story?

Not a bad guy? Really? he doesn't believe in family time and dinners. is jealous of your closeness with your child...making you out to be a bad guy? Berates you and your parenting skills? You need him around WHY???? I guess there is a reason you haven't married him yet? You'll be stuck with him for life though - as you have kids together - right? How many kids to you have together? I ask because you refer to him as "her dad" but then say "my"....so I wonder...oh well.

You need to talk with your daughter and explain to her the difference between telling you a story and telling you a lie.

You and your significant other need counseling and parenting classes so you can work TOGETHER not against each other. Right now - you have stated you don't even know how to talk to him - sorry - that's part of the problem right there - you don't talk TO him. You talk WITH him. That means you LISTEN to his side of things...when someone talks TO you- you typically aren't being heard..

Good luck.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Lansing on

At 5 or any age really I have to take into account how big the lie. Because while I agree that lying is bad, I somewhat agree with your SO about being careful not to punish her too much where she will never tell the truth.

I've always told my kids if I catch you in a lie your punishment will be worse than if you just outright told me.

If you can't resolve your parenting styles it might be a good idea to go somewhere and get help. I know my husband and I do not always see eye to eye. But fortunately when not around the kids we are able to talk it out. If you can't do this then I think you need to get some help with it. Good luck!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

The #1 Rule in our house is:
No lying!
All my kids know that they do NOT get in trouble if they tell the truth!

I don't make a big deal of the little fibs, I just call them on it so they know that I ALWAYS know when they are not telling the truth!
Kids & lying go hand in hand, it's just some stage they all go through & need to be taught not to do it! Most of the time when they are little like this, they honestly don't even know why they are lying!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Dover on

Your SO is off base on this unless you completely overreact about the truth (for instance if the truth will get her in trouble she may be making up a lie to not get in trouble).

Talk to your daughter when she's not lying. Let her know that you love her and trust that she will tell you the truth. Make sure she truly knows the difference between truth, fantasy, make believe, and a lie. Let her know that while she may get in a little trouble for doing something wrong, the truth will be far less punishment than a lie. When the truth doesn't bring punishment, but a lie does she will start to get it. As my son got older he knew that he was in not allowed to go somewhere because he did something wrong but now he couldn't go for a week because he lied.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Here's a fine article on kids lying that you might find helpful:

There are several categories of lies, and they should be handled differently. I hope that you don't ask her, with evidence in hand, whether she DID the thing you KNOW she did. THAT is unfair, and when cornered that way, children will lie to save their butts, even though the proof might be right in front of them. When confronted with an angry or disappointed adult, kids just want to wish the event away, especially if punishment is going to be involved. Whatever it was, they didn't have the frontal-lobe pathways yet to resist temptation, and that's not their fault. Heck, even young adults are still learning self-mastery of impulses.

There are also different ways to "discipline," which actually means teaching, not just punishing. We teach by example, by noticing and appreciating good behavior, by explanation and other means that often work better than punishment or shaming.

My grandson, at 7, is occasionally confabulating "facts" that he claims to "know." I remember doing this in first grade, a desperate ploy to be seen as interesting to adults and classmates. My stern teacher seriously humiliated me in front of the class for sharing a story (about parachuting!) that couldn't possibly be true, then sent me to stand with my nose in the corner for another hour.

I still feel clearly the emotional damage that wreaked – my mother was big on punishment, too, so there was almost no room for "creativity" in my life. I'm convinced that all that punishment/shaming was WAY more that necessary. At the time, I just felt like an undeserving worm, and never opened my mouth again in front of any class unless forced by the teacher. It would have worked as well or better if the teacher had just spoken to me quietly afterward. I did respect her, but I ended up just fearing and hating her.

Kids do experiment with lying. It comes naturally, sad to say, as a strategy to meet all kinds of perceived needs (feeling important, avoiding punishment, getting something we want, making excuses, trying not to offend, and on and on). Really smart kids begin these experiments in toddlerhood.

With my grandson, I just tell him privately and without drama that I know "yyy" isn't true, and remind him that his word and trustworthiness are important. He'll have a hard time if people can't believe him. And I practice truthfulness myself, since adult example is so important. His stories have diminished, and he's honestly a pretty truthful kid in most ways. I also make it clear that I do appreciate his truthfulness. That is powerful.

Since I don't know the nature of the lies, I can't really comment on how your mate is responding to them.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

You two need to get on the same page, Mom. If you don't, the kids are going to play you two off of each other when they realize that they can.

Making you out to be "the bad guy" is a real problem. If I walked into a relationship with someone after having kids, this would be a dealbreaker to me.

You should have some sessions with a family counselor so that you can learn to work together. I'd really do that if I were in your shoes.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

The question is more about you guys being on the same page and less about the lying. Obviously you have to nip that in the bud, but getting the kids to understand the difference between stories, lying, and that they need to not try to "avoid trouble" by making up stuff is the challenging bit.

I'm confused because you refer to the kids as "our" little ones, but then refer to your daugher as "MY" daughter. Is she not his bio child? If she IS his bio child, then referring to her as MY daughter is a bit strange.... If she's his by love, but not by biology, then you MAY be showing some favoritism and if that's the case, you might want to get some sort of counseling, or at least TALK to each other about dealing with this unconscious issue. He needs to not feel like he has to "buy" her love with favoritism. THAT needs to be fixed.

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answers from Boise on

I hate to say anything as far as lying when it comes to children that young,cause for them it's a lot more about story telling and protecting themselves then it is about manipulating a situation.

I'm a big believer in teaching my kids that the truth will always be better, because a lie makes a punishment 100 times worse. Of course they have lied, but if they are truthful, the punishment is almost always minor, even for things that are decently important. A lie, a lie will lead to things far worse, but again not until they are older and I have had sufficient time to really work with them.

As for being on the same page.....I don't agree with the other ladies, my husband and I are often on different pages, however we don't step in when the other parent is correcting, we hold our tongues and deal with it later.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I don't know, you didn't give an example of one of these lies, but at 5, I don't think it's a big deal, and certainly not worth "punishing" over. I think you should call her out on it, and get the real story, but beyond that, you don't need to punish, imo.

Maybe a compromise somewhere in between your way and hubby's way would be best.

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answers from San Diego on

When we deal with lying we don't make a big fuss over it but we do correct them and call them out on it.
Thankfully I have terrible liars LOL It is so obvious when they do it's almost comical.
When they do try to lie we call them straight out. I know you are lying and I don't appreciate it. We let them know that even if they did something wrong we would rather them tell us then lie and if they lie they get into more trouble then they might have if they had just come out and told us. There have been times when they would not have gotten in trouble for something (accident) but they got in trouble for lying instead.
Even when they were little they understood.
I don't agree with the way your husband is approaching it. While I don't equate lying as a major offence, especially in younger children, I don't agree with ignoring it either.

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answers from Sacramento on

Some kids are imaginative and delight on telling stories that make them sound interesting, and some learn that they can get away with telling a lie to get themselves out of trouble. In both cases if they are not called on it, they can develop a habit of lying that causes problems later on.

In terms of questioning... if you know that what she is saying is untrue, then don't ask her if it is. Say something like... " Jane I know that you didn't brush your hair, please go back into the bathroom and brush it." Asking only starts an unnecessary conflict.

Tell your husband that at this age, you really do want to squash her compulsion to lie. If you don't you will be dealing with it when she begins lying to friends and teachers because she doesn't know how to fit in without telling stories and taking responsibility for things she does. Most kids do this or at least try it. But it's important to deal with it appropriately... his idea of don't question her or she won't trust you is incorrect. Kids are smart and she will start to realize that by not being held accountable, she can get away with telling you all kinds of things, and her Dad will back her up.

Good luck~

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answers from Williamsport on

Be consistent. I commend you for not being in the "Phrase things in a way where they can't possibly lie so they're never uncomfortable and never get in trouble" camp. Or the "Asking them is setting them up to lie so dont' ask" camp. You need to be tough on lying. All kids do it because it's HARD and uncomfortable to tell the truth. For EVERYONE. But it's very important and takes practice and enforcement like anything else. Be firm and consistent and she will get it. I don't know what to tell you about your husband's behavior, but you yourself need to teach the lesson and it may take longer with him undermining your efforts but don't give up.

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answers from Milwaukee on

I always talk with them about lying, however, my 9 year old is an amazing liar. He has a future in it if I don't break him of it. I always tell him he will get in less trouble if he tells the truth.

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answers from Beaumont on

I can not see what other people said, but I think developmentally 5 year olds have a hard time with reality and fiction. They are just learning the discriminate between the two concepts. I think it is a teaching situation and should be handled positively and I would not call it lying and would not punish her. That is probably your husbands point. If you shame and punish then you are going to have a child that is afraid to tell you things. Say maybe you want it to be that way but is that really how it happened? That would be fun if that happened but I think it was this way or something. Some way to get to the reality of the situation without shaming the child. They really can not distinguish at this age, but do know when someone is making them feel bad and shaming them.

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