by Brie Tucker, contributor to No Guilt Mom
A “D” in Science. My 7th-grade son had a “D” in Science!
This was out of character for him because Science is his favorite subject.
I’ll admit, I hadn’t really been keeping tabs on his grades as I once had. Once he moved into middle school, I let go of my “helicopter mom” controls just a bit, and decided that I didn’t need to check up on his school work and/or grades as much.
I felt pretty confident that I had taught him that his parents (both his dad and myself) had our expectations when it came to school work, and had given him strong study skills to succeed in school without my constant guidance before and after school.
But a D?!?
At a school event that night I asked him about his Science grade. He said he hadn’t done well on a test, but was going to bring it up.
Okay, I thought, reasonable enough.
Then, it happened.
Not 2 minutes later- as I am sitting next to him and his dad at school – I overhear his dad say “Don’t you think it has to do with that project you didn’t turn in?”
My heart sank.
He shook his head “no” and briefly looked over at me as I sat in shock.
He didn’t think I heard.
I sat there, sick to my stomach and I’ll admit…ANGRY.
I decided it would be best to address this with him later when it was just the 2 of us. After all, it was only me that he had lied to.
But that is what got to me…He had lied to ME!
Yes, he had lied before about little things: saying he brushed his teeth when he didn’t or snatching his sister’s toy when no one was looking.
But this was bigger than that.
It felt so much bigger. It felt like…betrayal. Full-fledged betrayal. He might as well have snuck into the house after curfew!
Later that night when we were home alone, I asked him about his grade and if he had any missing assignments.
He said that he didn’t know what I was talking about because he didn’t have a missing assignment.
Nope, I thought. This is going to turn into a game of chicken between the two of us; who was going to give in first.
I took a deep breath and very calmly explained that I overheard him and his dad talking, that I had spoken to his dad to ask about the assignment, and that he had confirmed that he had an assignment that didn’t get turned in.
My son broke our gaze and looked down at the floor.
While I could continue on with the array of reasons he had for telling me what he did (one of which was that he didn’t want to disappoint me)- the end result was still the same. He lied.
And worse yet, he lied to me.
Straight to my face.
And he thought I would never know the difference.
At some point in time, we will all experience that painful moment.
The one where we realize that our child is lying to us.
And I’m not talking about the time when they were 2 years old and had oreo cookie crumbs all over their face while swearing they didn’t touch the cookies.
I’m talking about the time when they are older, and you have that soul-crushing realization, that you asked them a question, and they straight-faced lied to you.
What can you do?
1. Breathe before you react.
Remember that when you interact with someone while you have big, strong emotions, you may not be thinking as clearly as you could.
It’s always a good idea to take a step away for a moment and breathe. It will instantly calm you, even if just a little, and naturally helps reduce your stress level.
2. Talk to your child about the facts.
When you get in a disagreement with someone, have you ever had them perceive your actions in a way you didn’t mean them to be perceived?
Maybe they thought you were trying to be mean when really you just misunderstood something?
Give your child the same chance you would want in that situation.
Repeat back to them the way you see the facts. Give them a chance to respond to that and clarify if anything was misunderstood or misconstrued on your end because, well, misunderstandings happen.
3. Review Expectations.
This is where you tell your child as clearly as possible what you expect of them and their character.
- Is lying okay?
- Why do you feel their actions were not okay?
- What would you want them to do in the future?
- Why did they feel they had to lie in this situation?
4. Review Consequences.
This will look different to every family. In my house, I am a big believer in natural consequences and family decisions.
Depending on the situation, sometimes my kids have to figure out what negative impact their actions had and how to rectify the situation.
In this scenario with my son, we talked about what were reasonable consequences.
He openly said that he shouldn’t have any electronics until he got his grades up.
That seemed reasonable, and he stuck to it because he imposed it on himself.
I’ll be honest, it made me feel like all hope wasn’t lost on my son’s character.
We had indeed raised a responsible child with good character after all.
We all have slip-ups sometimes.
Our kids will lie to us. But now, you know how to handle it, not lose it, and even learn from it.