Hello. Is your 16 year old daughter lying about having a boyfriend? Well, let's talk about that
today on Tips on Teens. My name is Kent Toussaint. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist,
and I specialize in helping kids, teens, and families live happier lives. I lead two organizations
the group private practice teen therapy center and the nonprofit 501 C three organization,
child and Teen Counseling, both here in Woodland Hills, California. And every Wednesday at
noon, I jump onto Facebook Live to answer your parenting questions. Let's jump into today's.
My daughter is 16, and she's been hanging out with one of her male classmates more and more lately.
I asked her if it was a romantic thing, but she emphatically denied it. She says they're just
friends, but she's been staying out late at his house lately. And there was another instance
where she said she wasn't with him late at night, but I know for a fact she was. We've always talked
openly about stuff, including sex. I'm not really
as concerned about that because I think she's well educated on that topic, but I'm really disappointed
that she's not being honest about it. What should I do first? Thank you for your question. There's
some positives going on here that I really want to acknowledge. The first is that you guys have
an open conversation about sex, which I think is really important for parents to have with teenagers,
which we've talked about in other questions. And I know this is not the focus of this question.
I just want to acknowledge it that that is a great thing to have in your relationship, because
if she does go down that road, hopefully she has you as a safety net to go if she needs help and support.
Now, let's assume she has this relationship. She likes this relationship, and why wouldn't
she want to share it with you? And there could be a few different reasons, even if you have an open
relationship. And part of it could be, is she's having this new relationship? It's the first
time she has sexual
thoughts and feelings. Whether she acts on them and how she acts on them is a different question.
But she has these things which is normal for a 16 year old. Any 16 year old to have some semblance
of sexuality in their identity is pretty normal. But it may be really awkward to be seen as that
by their parents because this is unconscious. But if their parents see them, like if your daughter
has you see her as a sexual being, that means unconsciously. She may have to see you as a sexual
being, and that may be really icky. It just is awkward, uncomfortable. Don't know what to do
with that. That illusion of innocence that is your relationship may be shattered, and they
don't know what's on the other side. They don't understand that it's okay and it's safe, and
that's okay. Be patient with this. There's a couple of ways to handle this. If you feel that she's
playing by the rules, she comes home when she says she's going to go home. She goes where she says
she's going to go. You trust that she's
making healthy choices in any kind of romantic relationship. Maybe you take this kind of slow
and just say, hey, why don't you invite your friend over? I know you guys been hanging out a while,
love to have more. Why don't you invite him over for dinner? And she may kind of resist a little
bit, but just keep offering, gently suggesting it. Eventually, maybe she brings him over,
and then it's obviously that it's the boyfriend, and he's kind of just slide into that understanding.
If, however, you feel she's kind of breaking some rules, lying is breaking a rule, obviously,
but every kid lies to their parents one time or another. It's not unheard of for teenagers to
lie to their parents. I'm not condoning it. I'm just acknowledging it's a reality. Or if she's
going places where she shouldn't or she says, I'm going to be here, but she goes there instead,
I'm going to hang out with these friends, but she hangs out with a boyfriend instead, that may
be an issue. And so you may want to talk to
her very openly. Don't ask her questions that you know the answers to because you're just setting
her up to lie. Instead, say something like, hey, this Saturday night when you said you were at
this place with these friends, I know you were actually here with this friend instead. And I
want to talk about that. And I want to talk about how we create an open conversation for you to
feel safe, to trust me that know that I'm going to be safe, and I'm going to not judge you, and we're
going to be okay. Now, part of you may be thinking, but wait a minute, I don't want to do that, because
then I'm going to reveal the source of my knowledge. I don't want to do that. I can't tell her,
this is how I found out. And that's the sticky place. If you're using kind of sneaky things to
find out where she is. And if you use that information, you feel like you betrayed her trust.
But if you don't use information, you feel like you have this information and you got to hold
on to it, know what to do about it.
And I would say you eventually have to come clean, because if you're not being honest with her,
why would she be honest with you? So it's important that you set the standard. You walk the walk
even when it's difficult. It's easy to be honest when there's nothing at risk. It's challenged
being honest when there is something at risk. And what I encourage you to do is be honest despite
the risk and own it and acknowledge that it may be a betrayal but hey, we are where we're at now.
Let's move forward. How do we heal and repair from this point of view? Again, one of you has to
be the mature adult in this conversation. Your 16 year old is not qualified, so you need to lead
the way with compassion, patience, empathy, understanding all these things. And that may
be the thing that helps her trust that she can be open with you about having a boyfriend. And maybe
she doesn't want to talk about them kissing or making out, and maybe that's okay. Sometimes
just knowing that your parent is there and
you can trust them without actually trusting them is good enough. You don't always have to open
up to feel trusted and supported. Just knowing that your parents are there can be good enough
sometimes. Anyways, it's a big question. I love this question. Please keep your questions
coming. We love answering your questions. If you have a question you'd like me to answer here
on Tips on Teens, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Again. My name is
Kent Toussiant with Teen Therapy Center and the nonprofit 501 C Three Child and Teen Counseling.
Thanks again, and I'll see you next Wednesday live on Facebook. Bye bye, guys.
What, teenagers lie?
Everyone knows teenagers lie. But if your teen is lying to you about a relationship, it brings up a host of issues revolving around trust. Parents can turn this situation into a great opportunity to build their relationship with their kid if they navigate it well.
Teenagers lying about a romantic relationship is pretty normal. Most teens aren’t quite comfortable with their sexuality. In relation to their parents, coming to grips with their own sexuality may also mean that they have to see their parents as “sexual beings” for the first time. This can be really uncomfortable for them!
If your kid is playing by the rules and you trust that he or she is making healthy choices, you can take it slow. It gives you a chance to ease into an understanding about their new relationship status.
What if my kid isn’t being safe?
If you think your kid is engaging in dangerous behavior, you’ll need to talk to them. Here’s where it gets tricky. Don’t ask them questions you know the answer to. That just sets them up to lie. Also, you can’t lie about how you found out what you know (i.e. surveillance, checking their phone, etc). You have to come clean and be honest with your kid, or why would they be honest with you? Lead the way with compassion, patience, empathy, and he or she will most likely open up.
There’s a lot to say on the topic, and we cover a bunch in this Tips on Teens:
“My daughter is 16 and she’s been hanging out with one of her male classmates more and more lately. I asked her if it was a romantic thing, but she emphatically denied it. She says they’re just friends, but she’s been staying out late at his house lately. And there was another instance where she said she wasn’t with him late at night, but I know for a fact she was. We’ve always talked openly about stuff, including sex. I’m not really as concerned about that because I think she’s well educated on that topic, but I’m really disappointed she’s not being honest about it. What should I do?”
Clinical Director Kent Toussaint answers your parenting questions every Wednesday at 12:00pm in our weekly segment Tips On Teens on Facebook Live. Have questions about parenting kids and teens? Send them to: TipsOnTeens@TeenTherapyCenter.com. We love to hear from you!
Head on over to our Facebook page every Wednesday at 12:00pm to watch LIVE! Check out our page here – https://www.facebook.com/TeenTherapyCenter/
If you have more questions or would like more information, please contact our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint at 818.697.8555.