When one of your kids is lying

Would appreciate your input on a currently frustrating situation in casa D.

We have 3 kids, girl, boy, girl, ages 15, 13, 11. We have several fringed blankets in our TV and living rooms to use while reading, atching TV, napping, etc. Bought most of them in December. On Super Bowl Sunday, we noticed that the ones in the TV room had the fringes all twisted together - actually braided very tightly in groups of 3. Clearly something that took a bit of effort to accomplish - as well as a ton of effort to correct. And afterwards the yarn fringe does not hang as nicely as before.

We read the kids the riot act. Tho none of them admitted it, we suspected the youngest. She spends the most time watching TV, has the most free time in terms of fewer hobbies/social engagements, and less homework. And she seems to be somewhat less socially skilled than the other two (who are no social butterflies themselves.) In the past she has done “nervous” stuff like tearing her hair in a certain place. I don’t want to paint her out to be a monster, but just trying to say why we suspect she did it.

Last night the damn blanket fringes were knotted up again! The youngest actually pointed it out to her mom. Again, all 3 denied it.

What the hell are we supposed to do? Believe the dog did it? Abnormal air currents?

Moreover, this strikes me as kinda not really healthy behavior. I cannot understand why a kid would do that - especially more than once. It damages our property, and causes mom and dad unnecessary effort.

We made it very clear that we were upset, but that we would be even more upset if we found out who did it other than by an admission. And we cancelled a ski trip we had planned for this weekend.

Any thoughts?


You can do things.

You can do what my father did. Go crazy. Yell at everyone. Punish everyone. The passive agressive child who is doing it to get dad all upset will have fun and the others will think dad is a jerk.

Or, you can remove the blankets and ignore it.

You canceled a sking trip for the whole family because someone knoted the blanket fringes?

We were frustrated at how to respond. Tho we suspected the one kid, we did not feel it fair to “punish” her in the absence of proof. Our main concern is to ascertain WHY someone would be doing this, and if appropriate, get help. It does not strike me as entirely normal and healthy for a kid to repeatedly do something that they know will piss off their parents.

Is she trying to make us mad? If so, she succeeded. And why would she want to?

Remove the blankets? We just bought the damn things. And my wife and I use them nearly every night. Should we get all plastic dishes and glassware if a kid decides to start hurling them against the wall? We should not be able to have nice things around the house just because one of my big kids decides to damage them?

I’m not nearly as concerned about the damn blankets as I am at what seems to me as a sign that one of my kids is unhappy about something. Sure seems passive-aggressive to me as well. But I’m certainly no psychologist. And I am uncertain how to best respond to passive-aggressiveness. And I am very frustrated that I cannot even figure out for sure which kid it is, what is making them act that way, and what I can do to help them.

I certainly see how this may seem trivial. But I am not sure how a parent could give a damn about their kids without giving this some thought - and feeling helpless at several aspects of this.

I would be so happy to have one of my kids say they did this in a failed attempt at a joke. Or to tell me ANY reason why they did it. Or even to say that they did it but don’t really understand why.

Get one of those ‘Nanny Cams’ and obtain the proof. If and/or when the braiding happens again you will have evidence. You can then give the guilty party one last chance to come clean and you have the option of a lighter sentence if they do.

Lying is something that almost everybody does in one form or another. Some people claim that a ‘little white lie’ is nothing to get worked up over, but it becomes habit. Find the guilty party and correct the problem.

Let me tell you a story.

I grew up in a large family. There were five of us. Three girls and two boys.

One day my father got home from work and noticed someone had adjusted the thermostat. We weren’t allowed to touch the thermostat. My father reminded us that then let it go.

The next day when he got home from work someone had adjusted the thermostat again.

This happend about four times a week almost two years.

My father went from mad to sad to yelling to almost crying. No one would ever confess to messing with the thermostat. He tried bobby trapping it and it didn’t work. He about went crazy. He really thought it was my oldest brother doing it but like you didn’t want to punish him without proof. He did try punishing us all hoping that the one who did it would come forward or the others would catch the criminal. All that did was make five kids just as angry as he was.

Years latter my youngest sister admitted that she did it. Why? To make Dad mad. She was mad at him for some trivial thing and realized that messing with the thermostat made him mad. After she did it a few times it became fun. She said she even thought it was funny that Dad blamed brother.

I really do think that you should let this one go. If one of your children has a real problem then it will come out in other actions. If you are worried about the youngest then help her with the problems you know she has. She will become angry if you blame her with no proof even if she did do it.

Dinsdale – what kind of blankets are these?

Are they chenille, like this?

The reason I ask is that I own two chenille throws, my mother has one and my brother’s fiancee has one as well. Between the three of us, every single one of us has noticed that the fringes on the end will bunch up in a braided / matted sort of way just through normal use. I have mine on my couch, and w/in a week of putting it there I noticed the ends were all matted up. I still can’t undo them.

But seriously though, WTF is the big deal? Even if it is one of your kids, I’d hate to think that you would be so anal over something so trivial. Passive agressive? Reading the riot act? Why not just cut the fringe off if it bothers you that much?

Dunno about “normal and healthy,” but that’s all the reason I needed to do something when I was eleven. Pissing parents off is what kids do. I’d add that if my parents or teachers made a big issue of a comparatively minor incident, the temptation to repeat it became almost uncontrollable. It’s not that I was angry at them, or that I wanted to get in trouble, but at that age you’re wired to do anything that gets a reaction.

I’d recommend treating it like the non-issue it is.

I’d punish all three. Kids crack easily. Announce a double-punishment for all three kids, unless one comes forward to confess, in which case the confessee gets a standard punishment.

If it’s obvious to you that the youngest did it, it will be equally obvious to the other two, who will put intolerable pressure on her to confess.

And if one of the other two does know who did it, they’ll beat a path to your door to turn in the guilty one.

Although In Conceivable’s story does seem to negate this strategy. It’s worth a try though.

Yeah, they do look like that, XJetGirlX. But if this were random and natural, I don’t understand why it happens only to the ones in the TV room, and not in the living room. Or why they seem to be done in a pattern of threes. Or why on one blanket one end was knotted, but the other wasn’t. And on another, only half of one end was knotted.

Another point, my wife cares far more about the decorating and such than I. She bought the blankets and is very upset at these developments. Not just the blankets, but she works only part-time and works really hard to create a pleasant and supportive home. Something like this affects her personally, and makes her feel like a failure. And anyone who is married/cohabbing must realize that I cannot simply ignore that.

I’m a little surprised that you are all assuming that this is a non-issue. That I should not at least TRY to figure out if it is significant or not. Just wait to see if she starts torturing small animals or becomes infatuated with raw meat?

Or that from living with this child for 11 years I would have no basis for suspecting that she was not entirely happy. I thought the OP was plenty long as it was. But over the years, individual trivial acts add up. Or that I would want to try to do anything within my power to help her be as happy with herself as possible. And I flat out reject the premise that it should simply be accepted as normal that all kids desire to piss off their parents or damage household property. I certainly did not.

In any event, thanks for the responses. It was I who made the decision to post this.

Oh - and In Conceivable, I hope none of my kids acts in such a nasty way as your sister did. To be that systemmatically and intentionally unpleasant and vengeful towards your family mambers. In retrospect, was she embarrassed about her actions, or proud/amused? And how do you view them?

I will leave the specific descriptive names unsaid.

Dinsdale, you sound like a very caring father.

If you suspect your youngest child has issues then please help her. Blaming her for something you have no proof she did (even if she did do it) will cause her to become even more angry, not less.

Kids aren’t happy all the time. Pre-teenage years are tough on girls. The blankets in and of themself are a non-issue. If there are other more concrete problems focus on them when you help her. Maybe she needs someone professional to talk to. You can tell them what you suspect but you don’t have to blame her.

Good luck to your entire family.

In retrospect she felt bad for upsetting Dad so much for no reason, but she thought it was funny at the time she was doing it.

She was a kid. About 12-13 when she was doing it. People that age don’t always think about things the way adults do.

Sheesh, if you’re so freaked out about this I fear for you if one of your children actually does something bad.

Oh, and many teenagers are “systemmatically and intentionally unpleasant”. If you haven’t seen much of that yet, trust me, you will

I believe the blankets are a non-issue. Your problem is that you have created an environment wherein your children do not feel comfortable being honest with you. I would address that with all three: why lie and claim you know nothing? Point out the consequences of being deceptive. Reward them for appropriate behavior…

If Ms. Dinsdale is upset that her blankets are “ruined” then she’s taking decorating the house way too personally. And I believe it is entirely normal and healthy for kids to do stuff primarily to piss off their parents. Sometimes negative attention is better than no attention at all. YMMV.

Actually, that describes almost exactly what mine looks like now. Only one part of one end was matted up. There’s an article here about that being a particular problem for chenille throws. All I’m saying is it might not be your kid.

And even if it is, you think her working off a little nervous tension or just fidgeting is a sign of a serious problem of some kind? I used to rip the velcro on my dad’s jacket all the time until it was almost worn out. Does that make me a psychopath? Even if she did do it, I can understand why she wouldn’t say anything – it seems to me that you’re giving the impression that your home decor is more important than your kids feeling at home.

I feel like I’ve stepped into an alternate reality here. I mean, if this is all a big whoosh I’ll be glad to take my lumps, but it sounds like you’re making a mountain out of, well, a grain of sand.

Dinsdale - I have children much younger than yours, but I can very much relate to:

  1. being frustrated because one of them isn’t “stepping up” and telling the truth

  2. being hurt and frustrated by the show of disrespect in terms of them doing the knotting again

  3. being concerned and wondering if there is more to the issue than meets the eye - is it a sign of a deeper issue?

I have no constructive advice, and for that I am sorry. I can see the point of view of others when they state “hey its just a blanket” or, more importantly “sometimes kids just do stuff like this” - yes, both of those have their merits, but when you are in the middle of something like this, it can be very hard to not want to do something about it - and sometimes, something really does need to be done.

Without proof, it seems like you should not confront or accuse any of them. However, if you have these lingering suspicions that something is up with your youngest anyway, maybe you can begin trying to address that - through more interaction with her, therapy if called for - just begin trying to help her with her issues as you see them…

Good luck.

In Conceivable - thanks for the kind words. But the tough thing is not even knowing HOW to help her - or IF help is really necessary.

One school of thought is that counseling shouldn’t really hurt anything. Of course, they don’t come “off the rack” and you can waste a bunch of time and if you don't find the right counselor. (Please don't anyone misconstrue this as indicating that I wish to avoid counseling to save .)

What is wierd is that our adult friends nearly unanimously single the youngest out as “delightful.” She’s extremely cute, very bright, and has a innate sense of rhythm/coordination she exresses through dance, gymnastics, and music.

But she has no friends, and has been mean to her peers on numerous occasions. We are not forcing her to be popular or overly social. None of our kids are “populars.” Neither are their mom and dad. If she is happiest developing into a relatively solitary adult - more power to her.

But she claims to want to have friends. Which makes it all the more frustrating when she acts in a way that seems aimed at turning kids off. And, of my 3 kids, she is the least willing/able to talk about her feelings/emotions. Not to say she is sullen. She eagerly prattles on nonstop about nonsense. But when something important happens, if we learn about it at all, it often comes from another kid’s mom, a teacher, etc.

And I flat out reject the premise that parents have to tolerate some level of ongoing unpleasantness from their kids. Instances - sure. But not ongoing patterns of defiance. Some parents may allow/tolerate that. And some kids may engage in that - and some of them may eventually turn out to be decent adults. But on the other hand - there are plenty of well-behaved, pleasant, respectful kids out there. I see no reason to give up and sink to whay I consider a less desirable social behavior. I think it is inexcusable when people react to kids’ undesirable behavior by saying, “What can we do? They are just being normal/expressing themselves/going through a phase.” At what point does a jerk get properly labelled?

Feel free to act differently within your own families.

And feel free to believe we are repressing/stifling our kids.

I think the first instance of the braiding is a non-issue. It’s the kind of nervous habit someone might do.

Doing it again, after knowing how big a deal it was, is a big issue.

I have to say I’m in favor of a nanny-cam approach. It will allow you to see who’s at fault without punishing everyone, AND to address the issue in a calm and rational way. Whoever is doing it needs to learn not to attack in this passive-aggressive sort of way, but unleashing the gates of hell on the guilty party’s shoulders is clearly not going to be the right approach.

The actual damage is nothing to get upset about. The lying and deliberate indifference to other family members’ feelings is.

  • Rick