I have to share this fantastic article over on New York Magazine about lying, specifically how kids learn to do it and why they continue to do it into their adolescent years.
You need to read the whole thing (it’s 5 pages long) — it’s really good, and title aside, isn’t just about the parental link to lying. Just some tidbits to whet your interest:
- In one study, when quizzed on 36 topics, 98% of the teenagers interviewed reported lying to their parents.
- Think your good kid doesn’t lie? “Being an honors student didn’t change these numbers by much; nor did being an overscheduled kid. No kid, apparently, was too busy to break a few rules.”
- “In studies where children are observed in their natural environment, a 4-year-old will lie once every two hours, while a 6-year-old will lie about once every hour and a half. Few kids are exceptions.”
- When 6-year-olds are first read either The Boy Who Cried Wolf or George Washington and the Cherry Tree before being asked about lying while under observation, the kids who heard the first storied lied MORE than kids who heard no story at all, while kids who heard the latter story lied 43% less often. “Ultimately, it’s not fairy tales that stop kids from lying—it’s the process of socialization. But the wisdom in The Cherry Tree applies: According to Talwar, parents need to teach kids the worth of honesty, just like George Washington’s father did, as much as they need to say that lying is wrong.”
- The article lays a direct path from “Don’t tattle” in the toddler and elementary school years up to teenagers and the “era of holding back information from parents.”
- “The big surprise in the research is when this need for autonomy is strongest. It’s not mild at 12, moderate at 15, and most powerful at 18. Darling’s scholarship shows that the objection to parental authority peaks around ages 14 to 15. In fact, this resistance is slightly stronger at age 11 than at 18.”
- How out of touch are parents with their teenagers? Consider the results of separate interviews with mothers and their adolescents about arguing.
- Forty-six percent of the mothers rated their arguments as being destructive to their relationships with their teens. Being challenged was stressful, chaotic, and (in their perception) disrespectful. The more frequently they fought, and the more intense the fights were, the more the mother rated the fighting as harmful. But only 23 percent of the adolescents felt that their arguments were destructive. Far more believed that fighting strengthened their relationship with their mothers. “Their perception of the fighting was really sophisticated, far more than we anticipated for teenagers,” notes Holmes. “They saw fighting as a way to see their parents in a new way, as a result of hearing their mother’s point of view be articulated.”
Anyway, I could quote this thing all day. Just go read it.