Recently, I lied to the almost 13-year-old.
It wasn’t a white lie.
It was one of those full-on, bearing absolutely no resemblance to the truth fabrications.
It happened in a flash.
In a moment where I gave fleeting thought to truth-telling and instead chose to plunge ahead and commit a falsification.
Spoiler alert: As with all lying liars who lie I was found out.
And it was horrible.
Sure, I possessed myriad ‘grown-up’ reasons *why* the information wasn’t hers to know, but when she discovered my duplicity my ‘uber important’ reasons no longer seemed as compelling.
She responded in a perfectly calm fashion and stated:
We don’t lie to each other.
She was right.
By no means do we have a perfect relationship, yet we consistently face the truth together.
That night I feared I’d permanently shattered her trust.
A role-reversal of sorts (or role-same’al with her, again, as Rory) and the only way I could think my way out was to focus upon how I’d created the trust in the first place.
Consistent mutual respect.
Over the past year or so, she and I have worked together to create a clear set of family values.
We’ve chosen to write these down in the form of a mission statement, but that’s not pivotal.
All that mattered was we spent time together defining what was important to us and talking through what we valued as a family.
We may not always agree, but we put trust and faith in the other person’s judgment.
This is where honesty comes in and why my being less than truthful was a shock to her.
We’ve created a climate of mutual respect where, even if the honesty du jour is not what the other person wants to hear, we *still* show up bearing the facts.
When she was young I constantly shared the notion my quality parenting was born from quantity of time.
Mothering is not a natural state for me and, as a result, I needed lots of opportunities to have any “I kick ass at this stuff” moments.
Now that she’s older it’s become quality time by default.
I need to be waiting for the moments she’s ready for me and, when she shows up, drop everything and be present
No backdrop of work worries or financial frettings running through my mind.
In order to create the sense of trust I desired/maintain what we have I must fully listen.
Lately, I’ve seen parenting experts instructing us *not* not to normalize for children.
Not to share stories beginning with: “When I was your age experienced the same thing…”
I don’t know if the aforementioned experts are correct or not; I do know, here, all my child typically wants is for me to tune everything out and listen.
(All together now) Consistently.
Literally show up at the events/special occasions you can.
Metaphorically show up by setting clear boundaries and consistently enforcing consequences if/when the boundaries are breached.
As a parent I’m predictable.
My child knows she can count on me to show up and my consistency in this realm has been one of the biggest contributing factors in creating trust between us.
I am predictable.
I’m average in the best possible way.
I may be scattered, I may be disheveled, I may be thisclose to missing something, I show up.
Now, on some level, there is not yet an end to my story.
I reminded her we all make wrong choices even adults.
I clarified, again, when I decided to be less than truthful it seemed my best option.
She accepted my apology.
She reminded me I’m a terrible liar (which is exactly how she knew) and said she forgave me.
Is the trust there?
Is her faith in me repaired?
On every level it’s the same thing I’ve told her when she has violated my trust.
Only time will tell.
- Screw the experts/normalize for me: Were you ever caught lying to your child??
Bea saysNovember 14, 2018 at 5:32 am
This is my nightmare. I white lie too often to my twins.
Evie saysNovember 14, 2018 at 7:06 am
I would be nervous my child would take this as permission for him to lie to me.
But good on ya for being honest.
Michele O'Callaghan saysNovember 14, 2018 at 7:21 am
I think that you handled it well. Why didn’t someone tell us parenting was so hard!
Andrea Eisen saysNovember 14, 2018 at 7:22 am
Love every word of this. I don’t need to tell you that, but I’m telling you anyway. You’re an incredible mom.
Teri saysNovember 14, 2018 at 7:25 am
Great post, Carla. I love your humility in the wya you handled it. You’re a woman of great integrity. You’ve taught me a lot on this single post.
Tricia Meyer saysNovember 14, 2018 at 8:08 am
I think I lied to my kids more when they were younger than I do now. There are things I just didn’t think I could tell them the truth about when they were younger. Now that they are 15 and 17, I think I actually NEED to tell them more of the truth. The place I struggle with the most is my relationship with my husband. I do want them to understand how hard relationships really are and all of the ups and downs. But then again there are some things that happened many years ago that I am just not sure they need to know–or it may change the way they feel about their dad and about how they ended up in this world. I can’t say what I would do if they ask (and they may). As parents, we just do the best we can in the moment and sometimes have to try to make up for it later!!
Shari Broder saysNovember 14, 2018 at 8:17 am
Trust take a long time to establish and a split second to destroy. White lies aren’t worth it either. Years ago, every time I felt tempted to tell what I thought was a “white lie,” I reconsidered. Why am I telling it? Do I really have to. You don’t
Samantha saysNovember 14, 2018 at 10:42 am
This. I grew up learning that it’s better to white lie than to hurt someone’s feelings. As if there aren’t a million ways to frame things honestly. And now when on the rare occasion I white lie for some odd reason (most often before I even realize I’ve done it) it feels awful.
messymimi saysNovember 14, 2018 at 12:01 pm
While i cannot remember lying on purpose, i’m sure i did hide some unpleasant truths with avoidance or deflective answers. Mostly because i didn’t want them to have an excuse to flat out lie to me.
Kelley Rose saysNovember 14, 2018 at 12:02 pm
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. Through challenge, strength and knowledge and experience. You’ve got this. You’re imperfectly, perfect.
Lisa Ricard Claro saysNovember 14, 2018 at 1:39 pm
I avoid lying. I’m terrible at it. I literally break out in hives. lol One of the biggest things in our house was trust. My kids learned early on that the P word (promise) was more than just a word. They knew if I said, “Yes, I promise,” then whatever that promise referred to would absolutely come to pass barring events beyond my control. If I said, “I’ll try, but I don’t promise,” they knew it wasn’t a done deal but that I’d do my best. And as they grew and I said, “Do you promise?”, there were many times they opened their mouths and closed them again to think about the right answer.
Wendy saysNovember 14, 2018 at 5:43 pm
Oh Carla–I think you are being too hard on yourself. You are a great mom and you made a mistake. You owned up to it and apologized; sounds like you raised an amazing daughter who loves you and understands you!
Allie saysNovember 15, 2018 at 11:03 am
Obviously my boys are younger (9) and the truth is a blurred line right now. I got myself into a lot of trouble when I tried to be honest about what defined a “sexy Halloween costume,” since they saw it on a billboard. They were SO not ready to handle the word “cleavage” and started yelling “why would anyone want to see that?” and it was hysterical. However, it’s HARD as an adult and mom to know when to tell the truth and when you can lie. As far as I can tell, you handled this perfectly and I’m sure the trust is intact!