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Parenting Your Teenager: Truth or Lie?

Attention all parents of teen-agers. Here is an important, groundbreaking and even shocking bulletin for you:

According to research conducted at the prestigious-sounding Josephson Institute of Ethics in, of course, California, here are two startling pieces of information:

1) 92 percent of teens surveyed admitted to lying to their parents at least once in the last year.

2) 78 percent of teens surveyed admitted to lying to their teachers at least once in the past year.

Have you gotten up off the floor yet?

Please forgive my sarcasm, but to put it in the language of the age group surveyed:

Well, duh.

If you are the parent of a teen-ager, I doubt you are at all surprised by these findings.

The results of my own scientific poll, conducted in three days of talking with the teens and parents I see in my office, give us these comments on the subject of teens lying to parents and/or teachers:

Only 92 percent?

The other 8 percent are lying.

Like they are really going to be honest on some lame survey.

I hope my parents don't read that article.

And other things really not printable.

So is it wrong to lie to your parents and teachers?

Of course.

Is honesty an issue of integrity and character?

Of course.

Do teens lie to their parents and teachers?

Of course.

So let's deal with it.

Tips for teens

File this under the care and feeding of parents:

Parents would rather know the truth the first time, no matter how ugly and horrible it might be, than to find out later that you lied.

Although it's sometimes hard to believe, parents were teen-agers once themselves. Which means that they know the lying game, and if they are paying attention, have a fairly good idea of when their kids are lying.

Here's a basic decision you need to make that will greatly affect your living-at-home years: Are my parents the enemy and I have to lie to get around them and get what I think I want, or can my parents be guides I can consult and trust to get me out into the real world?

Tips for parents

Is it possible to be able to always tell when your kids are telling the truth or lying to you? Nope, haven't found that technology yet. But here are a few guidelines you can use that will give you a pretty good idea of what is really going on:

Does the story you are hearing match what you already know?

Does it match what the parents of your kids' friends and/or your neighbors tell you? (Are you talking to them?)

Does it match what your kids' teachers are telling you? (Are you talking to them?)

In how many ways can you check out anything that you are in doubt about?

Do your kids fidget or have difficulty looking you in the eye when they are talking to you?

Here's the one that has been my guide for 25 years of family counseling:

Does the behavior match the words?

Again, in the best of all possible worlds, kids won't lie simply because it is wrong and damages trust. Until we discover the best of all possible worlds, we'll just have to deal with what is.

In the meantime, let's be on the lookout for new surveys that will tell us that a high percentage of teen-agers like loud music and talking on the phone.

Visit for tips and tools for creating and growing a great relationship. You can also subscribe to our f*r*e*e 10 day e-program on how to enrich your relationship today, from relationship coach and expert Jeff Herring.

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