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Do parents know when teenagers lie to them?

, medical expert
Last reviewed: 19.10.2021
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Karen Bogenscheder of the University of Wisconsin Madison wrote an article entitled "Do whatever you like, but do not lie to me." She found that although all high school students sometimes lied to their parents, only a third of the parents knew about it. Even more surprising is that many parents knew - or suspected - that adolescents lie in the majority. But not their child, they thought. Do parents know when teenagers lie to them?

The magic power of parental trust

Parents can be hard to convince that a child lies to them when it comes to trusting their children. For children, it is very important that parents trust them. In fact, this is one of the markers of good relations in the "parent-child" pair. Trust inspires children, encourages them to behave in such a way as to maintain parental trust. The more they are trusted, the more they try to live up to this trust, and the more one can rely on teenagers.

Trust binds parents on the hands and feet

On the other hand, parents who do not know that their children are in trouble (because they trust them) may miss the opportunity to set rules and take proactive steps to keep their children out of trouble. They lose the opportunity to warn their children about drunk driving, because they think that their teenage children do not drink. Or they can not forbid them to go to a nightclub with a lot of alcohol, because they trust their children. Or punish them when they do something wrong.

But there's nothing worse for a teenager than a feeling of mistrust when they did not do anything wrong.

Do parents know that teenagers lie to them?

Most children sometimes lie to their parents. For example, in one study conducted in the United States, participants were 121 students. So, 120 of them named at least one situation in which they lied to their parents. These results have been confirmed with thousands of children in four countries on three continents.

Although most children tend to lie, some teenagers do it much more often than others. No wonder: the more children lie to their parents, the more problems, the worse they develop relationships with their parents, and the less they feel the confidence in children.

In interviews with mothers and their children, it became clear that mothers felt the lie of adolescents, but tried to persuade themselves that everything was fine.

  • In 38% of cases, both mothers and teenagers agreed that they lied to their parents.
  • In 22.8% of cases, both mothers and teenagers agreed that adolescents did not admit to them in lies.
  • In almost 40% of cases, mothers and teenagers agreed that they trust each other.

Errors in trust to each other occur in both directions. Mothers sometimes think that a teenager has obeyed them, but in fact he did not do it - he just lied about what he did. For example, in 35.9% of cases when mothers thought that their children listened to them, the adolescents reported that they had not done so. On the other hand, in 32.3% of cases when mothers were told that their children did not listen to them, the adolescents reported that they actually fulfilled the request of the mother.

A mother can not always tell when her child is lying

Sometimes my mother brings an excessive suspicion, and then she thinks that her child lies in almost everything. Sometimes the situation is reversed - my mother thinks that her teenage child is not lying to her, but in fact it is not.

Studies show that adolescents use deception quite regularly (in 64% of cases when they do not agree with mothers). Mothers sometimes rightly suspect their teenage children and believe that they are deceiving them. However, mothers are not particularly accurate in their assessments, when adolescents use deception as a means of self-protection. During the experiment, the mothers showed that they can detect about 71% of the cases of deception, and the remaining cases of lies teenagers can hide.

  • 57% of the mothers surveyed believe that teenagers are telling the truth when it really is
  • 33% of the mothers surveyed believe that the adolescents lied to them, although their children, on the contrary, spoke the truth

In general, there is a big difference between the beliefs of mothers about whether their teenage children are lying to them, and the real situation.

What do mothers trust most of their children?

Most of the mother, as shown by experiments, trust their teenage children in two things: do they have any trouble in school and how do they spend their free time.

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