Our oldest daughter is a pathological liar. She has lied about anything and everything for as long as we can remember. The stories of her outrageous and mundane false tales would take days, possibly weeks, to explore, and those are just the ones we caught her in.
Telling the truth is one of the most valued traits we tried to instill in our children. In spite of our efforts to encourage truth telling and appropriate punishments when caught in lies, the lesson never “took” with our oldest.
When you have a child who lies incessantly, you can’t believe anything s/he says. No matter how big or small, we must always second guess the tales she tells. The story could be true. It could be a partial truth. It might be completely fabricated. Regardless, whatever comes out of her mouth becomes her truth, whether there is an ounce of honesty or not.
Over the years, the scope of her tall tales increased. She lied about friends, she lied about school activities, she lied about our home life, she lied about sickness and injury, she lied about her sister to cause her problems at school, she lied to get her way, she lied to get out of trouble, she lied about lying…seemingly, she would lie about anything to anyone, without provocation.
During the past year, we discovered that not only did she tell lies, but that she lived a double life. She gave the appearance of being a model student at school and church; however, she was secretly abusing her sister in an unspeakable fashion. We took swift action to ensure safety and to get help for each child. This resulted in our oldest spending time in a residential facility and currently living with a family friend. Obviously, she will never be able to stay in our home again. We have sought professional help for both children and are doing as well as can be expected.
But the lies haven’t stopped. She has continued to lie to family members, friends, clergy, and to those she has forged new relationships with over the past few months. Most frequently, she lies about what happened in our home, for self preservation, of course. While I can’t blame her for not telling the truth about her actions. I do resent the outright lies she has told to friends and family that paint her father and I in a monstrous light. We did not kick her out of the house for a misunderstanding. We did not kick her out of the house because she made one single mistake and now we won’t let her “live down” her past. We did not kick her out of the house because she had sex. We did not kick her out of the house for any other reason she might give. We had her removed to a residential facility, in hopes of getting her proper help, because she abused her sister and is a danger to our home. That is the only reason she is not living with us.
She continues to live a double life. She is a wonderful employee and remains very active in a local church. However, she lies about her work shifts so that she can meet someone at a hotel. At 17, she shouldn’t even be able to get a hotel room in her name; yet she has. (We saw the video surveillance.) She lies about her whereabouts, who she is with, and what she is doing. She is very intelligent, so there is little to no trail to help determine the truth. Without hiring a PI to follow her constantly, we have no way to know what she’s really doing.
How do we parent a perpetual liar who is nearly an adult? We hold her accountable when we can. We try to remember that we can not control her actions or the lies she continues to tell. We advise her of what is right and wrong. We remind her of legal ramifications of the behaviors we fear she may be involved in, but we have no proof. And we pray. We pray a LOT. We pray for her safety. We pray that she will make wise decisions. We pray that she never re-offends in the future. We pray she will one day get the mental health help we know she needs. We pray she never becomes the victim of abuse or sex trafficking, because her double life behaviors certainly put her in jeopardy. We pray she doesn’t get involved in drugs. We pray for the people in her life to be a positive influence. We pray she stops living a double life. We pray she find happiness. We pray she becomes a successful and independent woman. We pray she understands that we truly love her. We pray.
Parenting is hard at any age and stage. There are lots of guide books and theories to help determine the best course of action along the way. We try to avoid the pitfalls of our own parents, while making the best informed decisions we can. The fact is, if your child is a pathological liar and could have a personality disorder, as many professionals have suggested could be the case in our situation, the suggestions of others don’t fit the situation.
We parent our nearly adult child with a wing and a prayer. May God guide and protect her as she moves into the next phase, adult life. May God provide peace to us during the dark times and hours that we worry. May God provide insight to those she comes in contact with to provide guidance and help her see that she needs professional help. And if that day comes, may God provide wisdom to the professional community to provide a proper diagnosis that may very well save her life and the lives of others.