Building Trust in the Family

Dear Dr. Linda,

My wife and I can’t believe this is happening to us, but we feel we can’t trust our daughter anymore. She was always an “A” student. In fact, we visited Yale on our way home from vacation this past summer because she always talked about going there. Then, at the end of eighth grade she started lying to us about school. We were so upset that we didn’t let her go on the eighth-grade trip to Washington, D.C. After all that, we just found out that she’s been lying to us about school issues again. Now, we even feel we can’t trust anything she tells us, in or out of school.

We have no idea what’s happening. Is this common teenage behavior?

Sign Up for E-News

Brad

Dear Brad,

Yes, lying is a common strategy that children use to conceal from their parents the problems they are having in school.

When any of us lie, it’s because we don’t want to tell the truth. Why not? Because we perceive the consequences of the truth will be worse than the consequences of lying. It’s as simple as that.

For many children, the consequences for lying will be less severe than the verbal or physical abuse they believe they’ll face if they tell the truth about their troubles.

The abuse extends beyond shouting and punishment, though most parents don’t recognize it. For instance, to many children, recopying an entire paper because it is too messy is torture. So is correcting 20 math problems or looking up 30 misspelled words.

For them, the risks associated with lying are worth taking. If the worst-case scenario happens and they are caught in a lie, the focus changes from school issues to lying issues, territory that has more predictable consequences. However, though lying seems like the way to go, especially to a child or teenager, it has negative consequences they’re unaware of.

The major consequence of lying is a loss of trust. And that’s where you are now. But another breach of trust happened first. It won’t be easy, but take a giant step backward and think about what you did (or didn’t do) that might have made your daughter not trust you enough to tell you the truth. How did you react? What was different about the end of eighth grade? Did something happen that caused her to feel that she could tell you what’s going on without being punished? How can you restore this trust again?

These are essential questions to ask yourselves and they’re not easy to answer. You may not know the answers. Improving family relationships where trust has been lost is hard work for everyone involved and it takes time. Sometimes one or more of the people involved find change too difficult. If this happens to you, consider family therapy.

In the meantime, how do you become someone your child can trust, someone safe to talk to when they’re having problems—in school or out?

Here are some important things to know with respect to developing trust:

• From infancy on, children need to learn to trust others. Starting with Mom and Dad, they learn to trust that their earliest cries of hunger and discomfort will bring relief of some kind. They learn to “trust” that their parents will take care of them.

• Where school is concerned, children need to know from the very first day that their parents and their teacher(s) are on their team. Once again, if they need help, they’ll get it. Children need to know that their parents are their allies—not their adversaries.

• Talk with your children every day about what happened at school, even if it’s just for a few minutes. This does not mean to interrogate, ridicule, or punish, as these are the kinds of behaviors that kids who are lying seek to avoid. Instead, this should be an opportunity to see problems when they develop before they become more difficult to address. If a child is struggling in school, he knows it already and doesn’t need to be punished because if he knew what to do about it, he would already have done it.

• Predictability is key. Be consistent so that your child knows what the consequences of certain behaviors (good or bad) will be.

• If you want your child to grow up to be a trustworthy and trusting adult, be a trustworthy and trusting adult. Keep your promises, do what you agree to do, and when told something in confidence, don’t share it with someone else.

Best of luck,

Dr. Linda

Dr. Linda is co-author of “Why Bad Grades Happen to Good Kids” and director of Strong Learning Tutoring and Test Prep. If you have any questions you’d like to share with Dr. Linda, email her at Linda@stronglearning.com.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Mahopac

The DACA Dilemma and the Trick of the Trickle-Down Theory

Here is our very own Sen. Charles Schumer on the Senate floor last week: “President Trump has stood in the way of a bipartisan solution to DACA, a problem he created in the first place, and yet the president is in this dream world. He thinks, ‘Oh, I can blame Democrats for the impasse.’ As I said, only in the 1984 world where up is down and black is white could this be true.

Cuomo’s Frivolous Lawsuits Cost Us Money

Since Donald Trump became president, New York State has filed more than 100 lawsuits against the federal government. This includes those filed by both Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and Gov. Andrew Cuomo. It does not include lawsuits filed by the City of New York. Most of them are political in nature, filed to please the plaintiffs’ voting base. In the real world, if we had filed ...

Beautiful, 'Clean' Coal

After completing his first full year in office—an alarming year, at that— Donald Trump has concluded that climate change is not a significant national threat and that the sacred lands and waters of this country should be sold to the highest bidder. 

The Trump administration has withdrawn from the Paris climate agreement; deregulated national landmarks; freed public lands for ...

Multigrain, Please

I have no craving for white bread; it’s too plain, predictable and tasteless for me. I hunger for a chunk of multigrain or rye, maybe even a good-sized piece of pumpernickel raisin, with a schmear of cream cheese on the side.

I have no appetite for bland, clean-cut, middle-of-the-road, isolationist politics. And I find unsettling the cultural sameness, gross consumerism and incurious ...

I Love 'I Hate Halet'

Let’s face it, folks. Not everyone loves Shakespeare. Not even all actors. Andrew Rally is one of them. In fact, where there’s a Will, there’s a way Andrew will find to avoid acting in one of those famously timeless plays. And for good reason. Shakespeare tests, to the fullest, an actor’s mettle, and Andrew is strictly a TV actor.

He has just ended a star turn in the ...

A Trip to the 'Liberry'

Raise your hand if you didn’t—did not—call the library the “liberry” when you were little. I’m guessing not a lot of hands just went up.

Didn’t just about all of us say “liberry” when we were learning to read? (Well, whaddya expect when a place is named something way too easy for little kids to mispronounce?)

OK. Now, raise your hand if ...

I Am Woman, Hair Me Roar

When you have short hair, it is inevitable that you will spend an inordinate amount of time growing your hair out and then getting fed up and cutting it again. I have been down this hair-brained road several dozen times before, complaining for months until I am convinced my husband is going to cut it all off while I sleep just so he doesn’t have to listen to me whine about it one more ...

I'm Mrs. Heat Miser

To be perfectly honest, I did not need a large rodent with insomnia to convince me that we had six more weeks of winter. It’s been so cold outside lately that when I go out, my nostrils stick together. The dog is so hesitant to go out that he does his business right on the deck, less than five feet from the door, and then gives me a look of contemptuous indignation when he comes back in the ...

Upcoming Events

Wed, February 28, 6:00 PM

Putnam County Department of Health, Brewster

Freedom from Smoking

Health & Wellness

Thu, March 1, 7:00 PM

Kennedy Catholic High School, Somers

The Kennedy Catholic High School Players ...

Arts & Entertainment Other Religions And Spirituality

Fri, March 2, 7:00 PM

Kennedy Catholic High School, Somers

The Kennedy Catholic High School Players ...

Arts & Entertainment Other Religions And Spirituality

Bazzo Needs to Get His Facts Straight

February 15, 2018

To the editor,

Once again Mr. Bazzo, in his Feb. 8, column cherry picks facts, ignores other facts, passes along lies and spins so fast to the right that it’s amazing he doesn’t drill himself into the earth.

Bazzo is correct—the economy is doing well, and we should give credit where credit is due. Thank you, President Obama for taking the economy from the brink of another ...