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Ask Rosalind: How to Talk About Peer Pressure and Friendship Feuds

Q. Now that my tween has turned into a teen, he's started telling lies. He fibs about everything: whether he has homework, if he's been showering. What can I do?

A. Teaching your kids to be honest is incredibly important, but don't take his lies personally. I'm not excusing his dishonesty. I'm only pointing out that you have to understand his motivation if you want to resolve the issue. Don't wait until you catch your son fibbing again to bring it up. Broach the topic when you're not arguing with him and say something like: "We have a problem. I think I'm nagging you so much that you're lying to me so I leave you alone. Am I right? If you feel that way, I want to work with you to fix it. But it's also important to me that you don't deceive me. So how can we both get what we need?" Then -- and this is tough -- be ready to be changed by what you hear. I know his untruths may seem ridiculous to you. Why would he say he showered when (a) you can probably tell if he hasn't and (b) not showering can get you teased or rejected by your peers? But contrary to your instincts, there may be a really good -- at least in his mind -- reason why he's hiding things from you. So be open to hearing it.

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