(Note: This post ran earlier this week as part of the Strength & Dignity devotional series at Club31Women.com. I’m sharing it here because we’re celebrating launch week for Praying the Scriptures for Your Teens and there’s a whole chapter in that book about honestly, integrity, and praying for your teens to tell 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 you 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; the 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’s 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.
The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in those who tell the truth. (Proverbs 12:22)
So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you hold to my teaching, you really are my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)
Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies. (Psalm 34:12-13)
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 and he can be counted on to complete it, and his deepest longing is to set your family free.
Help my teens–help me–to believe you and hold to your teaching. Keep our tongues from evil and our lips from telling lies. Take delight in our family and set us free. (John 8:31-32; Psalm 34:12-13; Proverbs 12:22)
P.S. 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.