Are You Causing Your Children To Lie?

The other night I caught my son doing something he was not supposed to do. But when I questioned him about it, he lied. Right to my face. Admittedly, I was being harsh. My tone was harsh, my words were harsh… I was frustrated. Mostly due to the fact that he lied. But also because he would not tell me why he lied. As I pressed and pressed, he lied all the more. And then it hit me- “I’m causing this.”


As a kid, I was always fearful of my father’s reaction. It was not uncommon for him to blow up or rant over mistakes I made, or messes I created. There were afternoons, before he came home from work, that I remember studying the clock to see how much time I had to get my act together before he arrived home.

I hated the lectures and rants. He would question, and question, and lecture, and question, and lecture, and question, and not give me the chance to answer, so I would lie. I did this because I just wanted it to stop and I knew that if I told the truth, he would just become angrier and lecture all the more.

The other night as I lectured, and questioned, and lectured, and questioned, and he lied to my face, reality hit me. I saw me, at his age, in him and I saw my father in me. I demanded that he tell me why he lied, but he couldn’t answer. He was lying because he was afraid of my reaction and tired of being lectured. It suddenly made sense.

If I’m being transparent, there are so many times when I don’t allow my children to get a word in edgewise. I am so bent on proving my point, and making sure “they understand where I’m coming from” that I bulldoze over them, leaving them tired and frustrated. My harsh tone and questioning, without allowing an answer, pushes them to lie just to get out of the situation in many circumstances. It’s flight by definition.

I believe as parents, our reaction, demeanor, and tone when discipline and correction occur with our children, determine so much of the outcome. We cause our children to lie, or attempt to fly away, if our reaction is to lecture or rant. Whether or not we are calm or harsh, is also teaching them how to behave someday when they are parents and they have to discipline their children. My goal for my children is honesty. But I need to keep my own emotions and frustrations in check.

If I’m known to always blow up or launch into rants when they do something wrong, of course they will feel pushed into lying or covering up the truth. On the other hand, if I am patient and calm, but firm, they will feel that they can tell the truth and honestly own their mistakes.

It’s absolutely not okay to lie! That’s not what I’m saying at all. And my son needs to tell the truth and take responsibility for his actions, regardless of the situation! But I need to check my own spirit. I need to do some self-examining and evaluate my reaction, my approach, and my presence. Perhaps if I kept my cool, and stayed a little more calm, my son wouldn’t feel the need to lie? Perhaps if I created more of an environment that felt safe, and not as if a bomb were about to go off, he would not feel pushed into a corner?

I don’t want my behavior as an adult, or a parent, to cause my children to lie. I don’t want them to feel the need to escape. I want them to feel safe and able to speak truthfully. If they still choose to lie, that’s on them. But it’s on me to handle them with patience and peace regardless!

Question: Is your reaction, or tone, causing your children to react in a way that is dishonest? What do you need to do differently? You can leave a comment by clicking here.


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  • Ned Campbell

    Many at time I’ve had the “I’m being my dad” moment, especially when I sit one of my kid’s down for a fatherly grilling at the kitchen table. I think from here on out we will have our family meetings laying side-by-side on a bed and take it out of the kitchen “conference room”

    • Ned, I am so thankful that you are one of my readers. Your wisdom and insight is so valuable. Thanks for your comment my friend!

  • Scarlet

    I find this is true, not just of children. PEOPLE will lie straight to your face if they don’t feel you are creating a safe environment for them. I’ve lived with fully-formed adults who will lie over the stupidest stuff because they either don’t care about how others around them feel or don’t know how to come to a middle ground. I know that if somebody is going to blow up at me for a choice I’ve made, I’ll either avoid confrontation all together or just plain lie.

    As people, we need to step back and figure out how to create safe places, but most importantly, how to forgive others when they mess up MORE than trying to correct their behavior. Often, we know when something is wrong or when we messed up, we don’t need another person standing there yelling out totally useless information just for the sake of making us feel bad. We need security. We need love and acceptance. Most of all, we need forgiveness.

    • Scarlet you are absolutely right! I’ve experienced much of the same with adults as well as children. There is no substitute for security, love and acceptance! Thx for your comment!

  • Joyce Friends

    I wish I had read this a few years ago:) I agree 150%!!! I had issues with my boy lying too and I agree its our demeanour that contributes to it. I hate lying with a passion, so I struggle even more with lying. My boy has been corporally disciplined at school for lying (got a few whacks over his hand for lying – he was 6 at the time) but I feel that it was unfairly dealt with. Apparently he lied about going to the girls toilet and not the boys. (Im a single mum so in public toilets he goes to girls as well, although at school he normally went to the boys). When i spoke to him later over the incident, he was in trouble because “he really needed to go, but the disabled one (which he used ) was busy and so he ran into the next toilet but was too late after he realised his mistake”. And of course some girls had to tell on him and he got hauled before the teacher. Well at most times in his life, one word sentences are the norm so under stress its down to even less words. Try explaining the above while you are in big trouble – so the response was “no” to the teacher asking if he went to the girls toilet. Still makes me sick to my stomach to think about it.

    • Joyce, thanks for your comment. Sounds like that was quite an ordeal!