Teen Talk

Kelly Richardson talks with teens

Kelly Richardson: Lying to parents makes her a participant, not a victim

01/07/2014 12:00 AM

01/06/2014 2:30 PM

Dear Kelly: My parents think they can’t trust me all because of two stupid things. Now they are treating me like I’m like 8 years old instead of 14. My mom refused to buy me thong underwear, so I went out and bought some for myself. When I got to school every day I would change into the thongs and wear those. I forgot to change back one day and my mom figured it out and got really mad.

Then two days later I told her I was going to my friend’s house (which I did!!!), and then we walked over to the park to meet with some guys we know. I had forgotten I had piano lessons so when my mom came to pick me up and I wasn’t at my friend’s house my mom’s friend told her we were at the park. My mom texted, “Where are you right now?” and I replied that I was at Alexis’ house, which wasn’t true. Then she texted me, “That’s funny bc I am here too.”

I knew I was busted and that she was gonna be really mad, especially because of the thong thing that had just happened. We got in a huge fight that night and I told them that they need to let me grow up and they said I had disappointed them and they didn’t know who I was anymore.

My parents have taken away my computer and my cellphone and I can’t do anything with friends. It’s torture at my house and I want to leave. Let me add that I get great grades and never have any problems at school. Teachers love me and I play soccer as well, and my coach loves me, too. The only people that seem to hate me are my parents.

Does it seem like they are overreacting to be so angry about stupid thong underwear and just because I was at the park when I had first been at my friend’s house? How do I get them to accept I’m growing up and teenagers like to be with their friends more than their family and that I’m not a bad kid for always wanting to hang out with my friends.

My parents still want me home for dinner at night and act like it’s a crime if I ask to eat at my friend’s house. I’m willing to compromise but they need to, too. I love my parents and I respect them but their rules need to change and they need to loosen up or things are going to be ugly at home for a long time.

– Bailee

Dear Bailee: Let’s start with the word “accountability.” Being accountable means you take responsibility for your actions and own the decision you make, whether right or wrong, without blaming someone else for the consequences that follow. You seem to be criticizing your parents for their reactions instead of looking at your own personal actions. The first step in being accountable is recognizing that you contributed to the fallout, and that you are not a victim of what has happened – you are a participant.

It’s not about the underwear or the park. It is about the fact you lied to them. When people are hurt, they react with anger. Your parents were hurt you lied so easily to them after just being caught a few days before. I’m guessing they are concerned you lie frequently to them and they don’t feel they can trust your word. Can you see their point? Even if you don’t agree, can you at least see how they would feel the way they do?

Saying that their rules need to loosen up or things are going to be ugly at home feels like a threat. Not a good approach if you are trying to work with them or get a positive response from them. When you get caught lying to someone, you don’t intimidate or challenge them if you want to change things. Your response should show humility. Set your pride aside and stop making this a them-vs.-me-thing. If you really do respect them like you say you do, then step up and show them respect in your actions.

I understand you want to wear thong underwear. But lying to your parents and have a sneaky undercover operation isn’t the way to go about it. Perhaps you tried talking with your mom and she didn’t go for the idea. Did you talk about a compromise or listen to your mom’s concerns? Or did you share why you felt the need to wear thong underwear? Your response doesn’t seem like much a compromise.

Take your lumps and admit you were wrong to lie to them. Approach them with a genuine apology, not an apology that is intended to help you get what you want. Talk about how you feel, without blaming them or threatening them. Be willing to accept the word “no” if they set boundaries. That’s their job.

Don’t be angry with them for wanting family time. If dinner is the only time they get to see you or check in, then give them that time without being angry that you are at the table. They are not crazy for wanting to spend time with you. Instead of giving all your time to your friends, give your parents some time as well. Find balance and everyone is happy.

You are right that you are growing up. And growing up means change. The best tool to help with change is communication. The more you are able to talk with your parents, the better and easier the change will be. If your communication continues to be shut down between you and your parents, ask to go talk with a family counselor. Perhaps a third party can help you all move ahead as a family without all the fighting and disagreements.

About This Blog

Kelly Richardson, a Folsom therapist, writes a weekly column for The Sacramento Bee. Her practice focuses on adolescents, and she believes proper communication and clear boundaries help build strong and lasting relationships. Write to Kelly Richardson Email krichardson@sacbee.com or send to Teen Talk, The Sacramento Bee, P.O. Box 15880, Sacramento, CA 95852
 

Join the Discussion

The Sacramento Bee is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Terms of Service