How can you encourage your teen to tell the truth and not freak out when they lie?
“The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in those who tell the truth.”
Proverbs 12:22 NLT
Seeking the Truth
“Where were you last night?”
Molly eyed her daughter, watching for any hint of deception. Her maternal instincts had kicked into overdrive, but she wanted to give Jenna a chance to tell the truth before she confronted her with what she already knew: that Jenna had left a birthday party with a boy and then shown up—much later—at a girlfriend’s house where she had been invited to spend the night.
“I was at Allie’s house.”
“How did you get there?”
“Brian drove me there after the party.”
“Did you kiss him?” Molly asked.
“Mom!” Jenna protested. “What’s with all the questions?”
Molly hadn’t planned to ask about the kissing; the question had simply popped into her head. And now that Jenna had sidestepped the issue, she sensed she had hit a mark.
“Did you kiss him?” she repeated.
“No, Mom!” Jenna scoffed. “Nothing happened.”
There it was—the slightest cloud flickered across Jenna’s face, signaling to Molly that her daughter was not telling the truth. Molly didn’t really care whether or not Jenna had kissed anyone; that wasn’t the primary issue. It was the lying that mattered—and lately, it seemed that Jenna had been lying about a lot of things…
What to Do When Your Teenager Lies
If you’ve caught your teen in a lie—or if lying seems to have become a pattern in their life—you probably know how Molly felt. She was discouraged, angry, and exhausted. And as she read verses like Jeremiah 9:5, she was also scared. “No one tells the truth,” the prophet warned. “With practiced tongues, they tell lies; they wear themselves out with all their sinning.”
There’s no question that lying gets easier with practice. And in a world where shifting blame, denying guilt, and withholding key information has become commonplace, it’s no surprise that our teens can twist the truth, break promises, and even tell bald-faced lies without feeling like they’ve hurt anyone or done something wrong.
So what do we do? How should we respond when our kids don’t tell the truth?
For starters, don’t panic. Nothing you are facing comes as a shocker to God, and when he reveals something—even the ugliest something—in our teens’ lives, it isn’t to scare us. It’s to prompt us to pray. Our prayers release God’s power to accomplish his purposes in the lives of the people we love.
Next, try to discover what motivated the lie. Was it fear? Insecurity? A desire to “cover” for friends? Ask God to reveal anything you need to know so that you can be specific and intentional when you pray.
And finally, remember where lies originate. Satan is the father of lies. He likes nothing better than to get you to believe his twisted words—including the lie that your kids are “doomed” when they blow it, that nothing will ever change, or that you’ve failed as a parent when your teens take a wrong turn.
Satan speaks deceit and destruction; God’s language is redemption and love. Trust God’s power to provide as you pray, knowing that his deepest desire is to lead your family to the Truth and set you free.
In His Word
So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32 ESV)
In Your Life
As you ask God to help your teens tell the truth, think about your own life. What lies is the enemy trying to get you to believe? Has he whispered that your family is a mess, or that you will never get it right? Don’t listen! Remember that Satan is the father of lies, but that God is the Father of Love. He has started a good work in your family’s life (Philippians 1:6 ESV) and he can be counted on to complete it.
You can read the rest of Molly and Jenna’s story in the updated edition of Praying the Scriptures for Your Teens, the latest release in the bestselling Praying the Scriptures series. Drawing on the power of God’s Word, this book equips you to pray effectively for everything from your teen’s relationships, faith, and safety to the purposes and plans God has for their future.
Jodie writes about prayer and other family topics in her email newsletter and on Instagram. To download the collection of free resources (including printable prayer cards and calendars), please visit JodieBerndt.com.
Jodie Berndt is the bestselling author of the Praying the Scriptures series for Children, Teens, and Adult Children—books that have been featured on Focus on the Family, The 700 Club, Fox News, and in many other programs, parenting magazines, and podcasts. She and her husband, Robbie, have four grown children and two sons-in-law.
Find Jodie writing at JodieBerndt.com (where you can download free resources like printable prayer cards and monthly prayer calendars).