Rebuilding Trust After Your Child Lies to You

Mary received a voice mail message letting her know that her son Ben was late for a class that day at school. When Mary asked Ben about it, Ben explained that he needed to get a permission slip signed at the office so he missed part of class. He also mentioned that the yearbook staff was taking some pictures in the hallway so he stopped to get in a picture. Although Mary questioned his decision to spend time getting in a picture, she e-mailed the school back letting them know that she approved of his being late due to the permission slip and picture.

What really upset Mary was that the school’s principal then called her and explained there was more to the story. In fact, her son missed the entire hour of class because he was goofing around in the hallways. The school was already giving him a lunch time detention which Ben also failed to mention.

Mary was furious that Ben had misled her into believing he only missed a few minutes of class, not the entire hour. She was planning to really yell at him when he got home from school and let him know that a number of privileges would be taken away because he lied.

We discussed how exploding with anger might actually hold him less accountable for his poor decisions. If she launched into an angry tirade, his focus will be on her out-of-control behavior not on what he did wrong.

After giving it some more thought, she decided to calmly tell him how disappointed she felt because he misled her. She requested that he write down what happened, what influenced his actions, what he would do differently next time and what type of amends he thinks he should make. He needed to figure out how he would regain her trust.

She explained that she would decide on any further consequences based on what he wrote. Ben did some serious thinking that night … a lot more than had his mom just yelled at him and took away privileges.

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