by Tracy Poizner | 26.03.18 | 0:10
In Part 1, I talked about what might be causing your stepkids to lie. Why does that matter?
It matters because you need some clarity about what’s going on so you can choose the right solution! Read over Part 1 again and try to understand where your stepkids might need you to understand what is happening.
How important is it for you to change this behavior? Are you prepared to change how you respond to it? You have probably heard the saying that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result…it’s time to get off the crazy train! Here are my suggestions for what to change today that will pave the way for a different outcome.
1. If you want an honest answer, ask an honest question!
- When you find a broken window, spilled drink or dented fender, don’t ask “Did you do that?” That’s not really a fair question, because you know they did it! You’re merely cornering them into taking responsibility along with whatever as-yet unknown consequence. If you really want to foster truth-telling, try saying something more like “It looks like there was an accident here. What happened?” This lets them know off the top that your goal at this moment is to learn how the damage happened, not to assign blame. Discussing responsibility can come later on, in a calmer moment, and preferably with the birth parent. It’s not easy to be confronted by your mistakes and experience humiliation in front of a non-family member.
2. Separate the lying from whatever they are lying about.
- You can’t fix both problems at once – deal with lying separately from the behavior or error
- You have to tell them it’s okay to tell the truth – AND MEAN IT! They have to know that they can say “I didn’t do [fill in the blank] because I didn’t feel like it.” Then, you have to say “Thanks for telling me the truth!” From there, you can choose how to respond. There are a variety of strategies that will let you move forward with them about getting [fill in the blank] done – now or next time.
3. Be respectful of Bio Mom
- Make sure they never hear you trashing her or threatening to take action of any kind, either directly or by eavesdropping. Whatever you might secretly think of her, you have to respect the fact that they feel responsible for doing or saying anything that would get her in trouble. They have to be able to tell you the truth in confidence and trust that you will keep it private. This can be dicey if they tell you something you have to follow up about for the safety of the child. There are many ways to proceed with the information you have gotten without letting it be obvious that the child was the source. Remember that kids regularly defend their abusive parents even in court!
4. If teens are involved, up-level your communication skills
- I strongly recommend a great book by Josh Shipp: The Grown Up’s Guide To Teenage Humans. There is so much really useful information in there! He offers some great strategies for improving how your teen talks to you by learning how to communicate in the just way they need. Once again, I would stress that consequences for lying need to be separated from consequences for a behavior they are lying about.
- Consider instituting the house rules he outlines, and have them collaborate with you about appropriate consequences. I suggest that if doing homework is the issue, don’t add a penalty for lying about it, just deal with homework. If lying is your bigger concern, make the consequence about that and never mind the homework for the time being.
Try these things out and see what works for you. If you want more advice and inspiration for your stepparenting journey, join my Facebook group called The Spectacular Stepmom!