What Motivates Teens to Lie

Elyse is a 17 year old pun connoisseur who resides in the “Lone Star State.” She enjoys collaging fashion boards, studying the works of Steinbeck, and designing jewelry.


Burying honesty underneath deception momentarily avoids explosive confrontation and punishment. It becomes an attractive friend by habitual familiarity, and an accessible refugee camp to those fleeing truthfulness. These extremes can be reconciled and synthesized over time, sometimes even pardoned, but most cases assure lingering aftermath that chains believability in lockdown.

“Lying increases the creative faculties, expands the ego, and lessens the frictions of social contact.” (Clare Boothe Luce)Whether these deliberate misleadings are benign, or growing malignantly, the fact remains that lying is not permissible. Despite the lashings of attitude and spasms of indifference, teenagers do seek their parent’s approval, which seemingly creates an opportunity to stretch the truth when “mistakes” or disguised rebellion occur. Lying allows teens to postpone the immediate encounter, and perhaps, dismiss the fact that a lie was ever put into existence (in their own conscience). Life can continue to be lived in peace, and conflict free without the disruption caused by deceit.

Approximately two years ago, a friend of mine weaved a web of sheer disaster that could’ve been easily avoided by surrendering an honest interpretation of the situation. AP assignments can be stress filled, and potent with pressure if not approached correctly. A friend of mine decided to test the boundaries of productive procrastination, and quite naturally, failed miserably. Waiting until 2:00 in the morning to complete a project that was due in less than 8 hours wasn’t exactly the brightest idea. Furthermore, wasting time on YouTube until 2:00 in the morning wasn’t a good idea either. As a result of her irresponsibility, a grade of 68 percent was recorded instead of the polished 98 she described confidently to her parents. Needless to say, report cards were printed, the ugly truth was discovered, and punishments were put in place. She was scared of telling her parents the truth because it wasn’t comfortable. Her parents hadn’t established a relationship with her that allowed her to speak her mind openly without harsh judgment. If she was honest with her parents, perhaps the consequences would not have been severe, and if her parents were more accepting, perhaps she would have told them the truth to begin with.

In order to prevent lies from being told, consider following these tips:


  • Start teaching your child at an early age the principles of honesty and integrity. If the concept is instilled within them while they are young, it will carry them through their adolescent years, and adulthood.
  • Establish an open relationship with your child that acknowledges their feelings, and thoughts. If your child feels that certain things must remain undisclosed when talking with you, perhaps you should ask them why they feel that way, and in what ways can your communication skills could improve as a parent. Confusion will fade away when you communicate effectively with your child.
  • Practice what you preach, and lead by example. You cannot expect your child to be honest with you if you are reciprocating dishonesty with them, and those around you. Your child needs a positive example in their life. As a parent, you should emulate honesty and respect. If this is set in stone, your child will be compelled to follow your lead down an honest path.


No human being is perfect, and lies will always be told, but if the relationship between the teen and the parent is healthy and strong, fibbers will less likely occur. “The family endures because it offers the truth of mortality and immortality within the same group. The family endures because, better than the commune, or classroom, it seems to individualize and socialize its children, to make us feel at the same time unique and yet joined to all humanity, accepted as is and yet challenged to grow, loved unconditionally and yet propelled by greater expectations.” (Letty Cottin Pogrebin, wisdomquotes.com) Therefore, parents, encourage your child to live a life of honesty, continue to spread unconditional love, and lead by example. There is truth within everybody; sometimes you just have to look for it.


Image: Blaire Nicole from Flikr 

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