A parent told me the other day that her 16-year-old had conveniently neglected to tell her that the mom who usually drives the carpool was unavailable, so the teenaged son had driven home. When this parent discovered what had happened, she confronted her daughter, whose only defense was, “I knew you’d be upset, so I just didn’t tell you.” No doubt accompanied by an annoying shrug.
Teens will conveniently “forget” to tell you about the R-rated movie they saw at a friend’s house, or about the note from the teacher, or about the phone call reminding you about tomorrow’s ortho appointment. At 8 a.m.
Is it lying when a teen knowingly withholds information because it will cause a parent to be upset and possibly “go off” again? Not exactly, but it certainly seems sneaky. And even a little manipulative.
Consider it yet another opportunity for a life lesson. First listen to the teen’s rationalization for not telling you. Could be he’s got a good point about you going ballistic. Then take your turn and explain exactly why that information would upset you. Don’t assume your teen sees things the way you do. Remember – he’s looking at the world from inside a bubble, so maybe all he knows is you get upset, but he has no idea why.
Then have a chat about facing conflict head-on. In my house not too long ago, it sounded like this, “Next time, deal with me freaking out. Because if I know you haven’t been honest this time, how can I be sure you’re being honest next time? Trust is a huge issue, and once it’s lost, it’s really hard to earn back.”
BUT – the next time you get the whole story, and you feel yourself getting ready to blow, stop and take a deep breath. Complain, protest, disagree, or issue consequences – but do it as calmly as you can. If you can play it cool, you’re always going to get better communication than if you turn into raving maniacal parent.
This I know from experience.