Monday, February 23, 2009

When does the lying stop?

Maybe the question should really be does the lying stop? This is the one residual negative behavior that I have been totally unsuccessful in improving/alleviating or otherwise changing up with our Rob. And to say i have made zero zip zilch progress is an understatement.

I have read about this till the cows come home. Rob does what is called on an adoption list that i am on "crazy lying." In other words even when it is clear that he did something, his first response will be to lie. For instance, one could see Rob take a cookie before supper. If you said to Rob, "did you take a cookie before supper?" He would say no, even if he was holding it in his hand or had cookie crumbs plastered across his face.

I have learned to not ask a question like that. I calmly say that I guess he ate supper backwards and opted to have dessert first. Or in another situation, I will just address the action. I will ask him to simply put back the item that was taken, clean the mess that was made, whatever. I don't ask if or why he did it. If I ask the if, I will get told he didn't. If I ask the why I will get I don't know. Then he will stare at me. For hours if I was willing to stand there that long. I think he probably knows that I am 50 and don't have so many years left that I can waste them staring at him so he will get let off the hook with "The Stare." (smiling and sighing) I wish I had the fortitude to just stare back but I don't. And i have 3 other kids who would need me in about 15 minutes max so it doesn't work any way you look at it.

We have talked about honesty in the general ways that parents do. Talked about values. Talked about situations when I have had to be honest in my work or my life, even if it meant getting in trouble. And on the 1 or 2 times a year when he has been truthful I make sure I don't have any negative consequences for whatever the issue was. Because I want him to see that he can trust us and be honest with us. But always always always, he returns to the pattern of lying.

Today it was about playing with Kirsty's makeup. She keeps it in our spare bedroom and puts it on there because the lighting is better for her. Rob keeps his Nintendo DS in the room and brought that to church for he and KC to play with while I had a meeting yesterday. so I know he was in the room. Today she found said make up broken and the cases damaged. Not intentionally, looks like he didn't know how to open them. He of course said he didn't do it and then when reminded that KC can't reach that high and Chet wasn't in there and Elisabeth wasn't in there he moved on to the aforementioned stare. I could have him replace the make up with his own money and probably will. But I know that won't make him think about telling the truth the next time, because we have done that before as well.

What bothers me the most is that I worry that this pattern will impact his whole life. He has so many wonderful facets to his personality. He has so many abilities and gifts to share with the world. But he could trash all that in a New York minute by lying someday. I know that people think that sometimes that is what it takes for a kid to learn. I wish I believed he would learn if that happened.


Yondalla said...

I shouldn't respond to this post...I shouldn't respond...say nothing...


Okay, the best technique I have for dealing with this sort of lying is giving the child a moment to move off of the automatic response and give you a thinking response. I think it is as difficult for them to control as any other stress response. They don't think before they lie. So sometimes giving them a chance to think before they answer the question allows them to tell the truth. Sometimes.

And the other part is that my kids who were deceptive when they lived with us are deceptive now. It does affect their lives, and I don't know if they will ever see that and attempt to make changes. Of course they came to us at 16, so the patterns were very ingrained. They are now 22 and 24 and as lovable and deceptive as they ever were.

Lee said...

Well maybe the age doesn't matter. I wonder if being deceptive as a safety mechanism for 5 years of his life has really just ingrained this. I should have mentioned that I have tried the giving time to think of an answer thing too. Usually the stories become more outlandish if he has more time. I suppose I should give points for creativity!

Yondalla said...

I considered mentioning that the "take time to think technique" can have that result.

I gave up on trying to make kids tell me the truth. I try to listen to the emotional messages behind what they are saying and always, always, always make my decision based upon information from other sources.

I also schooled myself not to ask the sort of question that prompted lies.