Q&A: How Can I Make My Kid Tell the Truth?

Teen parenting expert Rosalind Wiseman on tweens who won't share everything you want to know.

Q. I have a 12-year-old boy who has started telling little lies. For example, he won't say when a test is coming up, or who's with him when I call on his cell. How can I make him tell me the truth?

A. He isn't lying; he's withholding information. He probably wants to put space between the two of you, which is completely normal for his age. Admit to yourself that you may have been a little intrusive and you should give him more privacy. If he's keeping up with his schoolwork, back off there. He needs independence to learn academic responsibility. And while you want to give clear guidelines for how he uses his phone, and monitor his compliance, stop grilling him when you call. That said, freedom has limits. When he's struggling in a subject, he should ask for your help. And if you catch him in a lie about dangerous or unethical behavior, give appropriate consequences.

Originally published in the January 2011 issue of Family Circle magazine.