So you’re ready to stop lying… maybe you already tried. Maybe you’ve looked at some of our other resources about the topic, and maybe you’ve accepted that your lying problem is getting in the way of living (and enjoying) your life to the fullest. When you’ve developed a habit, however, it can be hard to break on your own, especially when it’s as complicated as hiding the truth about who you are, what you do, how you feel, and why you lie about these things.
Breaking bad habits is tough. Breaking them without support can feel nearly impossible. Compulsive or habitual lying is ultimately a mental health issue, so you may require the support and guidance of a mental health professional, but to access that kind of help under the age of 18, you may need to talk to your parents. Talking to our parents can be intimidating for many reasons. Maybe you don’t have the best relationship with them, or maybe you are worried they will judge you or even punish you when they find out you’ve been lying. Or maybe you just don’t know where to begin when it comes to a tough conversation.
Start by Asking for a Family Meeting
It doesn’t have to be a formal sit-down meeting, just a time that’s dedicated to having a real conversation. The last thing you want to do is spring this kind of chat on them out of nowhere, in the car on the way home from an event, at the dinner table when they least expect it, etc. Find a moment when you can simply say, “Hey is there a moment this weekend when we can talk? I have something on my mind, and I’d like to discuss it with you.”
With some warning and scheduling, you decrease your chances that they’ll be too tired or surprised to give their full attention, support, or compassion to the subject. You want to make sure you’re prepared too. Winging a talk like this one won’t give you the best chance at explaining yourself, your struggles, and your needs clearly.
If your parents are the type to freak out a little bit or to demand more information before they agree to a future talk. You can try saying something like this:
- “Please don’t freak out. I’m okay. I just want to have a talk with you guys when we can dedicate our full attention to the topic. Would Sunday afternoon work?”
- “I’m not ready to go into it right now because I’m tired/hungry/in a bad mood, but I wanted to put it on your radar for a later time when I can be more prepared. How about Sunday afternoon?”
What to Say When You Have Their Full Attention
Once your parents are focused on you for a moment, it’s time to open up to them. More lies won’t help this situation, even if you’re worried about how this conversation will go. If you have a decent relationship with your parents, don’t be afraid to show your true feelings. If you feel emotionally safe with them, try saying something along these lines:
- “Something has been weighing really heavily on me lately, and I think I need help. I’ve noticed I’ve been lying a lot, and I can’t stop.”
- “You have always said that I should feel like I can tell you anything, so here goes: I’ve been lying a lot, and I don’t know how to stop. I need your help.”
If your parents aren’t the most supportive, or if you don’t feel close enough with them to be vulnerable about your feelings, stick to the facts. Saying something like this is a good way to start the conversation without inviting emotion into the room:
- “Thanks for letting me chat with you for a minute. Basically, I think I’ve been experiencing some mental health issues. How do we go about making an appointment with my doctor or a counselor?”
- “You may have noticed that some stuff has been going on with me, and I want to get better. Does our health insurance cover therapy?”
How to Answer Your Parents’ Questions
When your parents discover you’ve been lying, they may get a bit distracted or even jump to discussions about how they should discipline you for breaking rules. Parents tend to get upset when they realize their child isn’t doing 100% okay, so even if you’re not that close with them, give them a minute to feel their feelings. They’ll probably ask you a lot of questions, but here’s how you can answer them without losing sight of your original goal for this conversation:
- “Yes, I realize I’ve broken your trust, but can we please talk about whether I should be grounded later? Right now I’m asking for your help because I want to get better.”
- “I know that I just told you I’ve been lying, but I also just told you that I want to stop lying. I need your help to do that. Can we focus on a solution before you decide on a punishment?”
- “I’m not trying to sweep all my lies under the rug, and I can answer all your questions later. First, can we talk about how to get me help?”
Be Clear About What You Want
If you have clear ideas about what kind of help you need from your parents, it’s important to express those directly. If you want to see a doctor to find out if you may have a mental health disorder, say so. If you want to drop a class or quit sports so that you’re less overwhelmed, say so. If you need rehab for an addiction that feeds your need to lie, say so. While your parents can provide you with some guidance on how to stop lying, the only person who really knows what you need is you. Take ownership over your own recovery and request what you want from your parents. You can start this way:
- “What I’m asking for is to be evaluated by a psychiatrist. When can we make an appointment?”
- “I think I need to start going to AA or something like it. Will you take me to meetings or help me get into a program for addicts?”
- “I don’t think I can be true to myself if I stay on the basketball team. What does it look like for me to quit midseason? Can you talk to my coach with me?”
Once your parents help you gain access to the resources that may help you stop lying, grasp those opportunities with everything you have. There is hope for you to start learning how to be more truthful in every aspect of your life, especially if you’ve already shown the courage to talk to your parents about it.
Liars Are Still Lovable
Whether your lies are because of people-pleasing tendencies or substance abuse, each one is dragging you farther away from yourself. With every lie, you are also building a wall between you and anyone else you might have a chance of true connection with, leaving you lonely and feeling unlovable.
Everyone, even a liar, is worthy of love and acceptance. Christ teaches us that, as divine creations, none of us are exempt from forgiveness. Your story can be a redemption story if you want it to be, no matter how many lies you’ve told. Talk to your parents if you can, but if you need to start with a more neutral party, chat with a Hope Coach today. We’re always here to listen without judgment and connect you with resources that may help you.
For more about lying read, "How Lying Hurts You".