Lies teens tell parents — and lies parents tell their teens

Lily Tran, Feature Editor

The saying goes, “Honesty is the best policy.” But it’s practically a fact of life: teens lie to their parents, and some parents tend to lie to their children about their past as well. It’s almost as if there is a mutual lie agreement between parents and teens.

Teenagers commonly tell little white lies — lies that are small and trivial and don’t have severe results. False excuses or explanations are made up to hang out with friends or to get out of doing things like chores.

“I lie about trivial things that wouldn’t really matter and wouldn’t have huge repercussions if [my parents] find out about it,” junior Rashad Lazkani said.

“I tell a lot of little lies,” junior Catherine Anaya said. “If I want to go somewhere I know [my mom] wouldn’t let me, I tell her I’m going somewhere else so that she’ll let me go.”

These untruths are told to avoid punishment, to do things that are against their parents’ set rules, or to keep their parents from feeling disappointment.

“I hide more stuff from my parents because I know the way that they’ll react,” Lazkani said. “They’re not going to approve of the things I do.”
But for some teenagers, their lies carry more emotional weight. Some teens feel like their parents wouldn’t understand how they are feeling. Many teens are unable to be open or close with their parents, pushing them to lie to maintain the distance.

“[My parents] don’t really trust me,” senior Samantha Tarrach said. “Even if I don’t do anything wrong, when I do tell them the truth they react in a certain way that makes me not want to say anything. I’m uncomfortable around them.”

On the other hand, parents tell lies for very different reasons. Some lie to monitor their children’s actions and keep them from misbehaving. But many of the mistruths that sprout from parents during their children’s teenage years paint a glossy picture of their pasts.

“[My mom] told me she was a great student and did sports and got great grades,” Anaya said. “But she wasn’t in sports for a long time and her grades weren’t that good. She took regular classes and got average grades.”

The lies parents tell their children about their past stem from the desire for their children to do well. Parents want to appear as a good role models for their children, especially for those reaching their teenage years where curiosity is high and they start to embark on the road to self-discovery.

“She lied to me about being great in school so I could be great in school,” Anaya said about her mother.

But the dark sides of parents’ pasts come out as well.

“[My mom] used to sneak out of the house a lot, get drunk, come back home and never get caught,” Anaya said. “She was telling me about her wild childhood to warn me off of doing things she did.”

“My dad used to tell me that he’d only been with my mom, but it turns out he had a few girls before her and was even very serious with one,” Lazkani said. “He lied to me because he didn’t want me to date before I got married.”

Despite the best attempts to mask the truth, it seems that both parents and teens know that they’re being lied to.

“I know that [my parents] lie to me and I’m pretty sure they know I lie to them,” Lazkani said. “They don’t say anything because they trust me enough to know I’m not going to do anything bad.”

Whether noble intentions or selfish reasons cause lies to come out of the mouths of parents or their teenagers, lies are just another norm within family dynamics and often stem more from love than malice.