Based on a Naaleh.com shiur by Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller
This week, we complete the topic of teaching children about truth, specifically with teenaged children. Adolescents will lie for social reasons. They want their friends to like them so they will say whatever they want to say. If you still have influence on them, you have to correct them. Essentially, they have to see you as a model of truth. In addition, you need to make a point of validating their efforts at honesty.
Teenagers lie to parents a lot and to teachers somewhat. They may lie to anyone they feel they have to, in order to get what they want. It’s not just a problem but a symptom of an additional problem. They don’t see you as a safe place so they will lie rather than be honest with you. At this age, it’s critical that you show them approval and validation. For example, your daughter lied and took money without permission to buy something you don’t allow her to own. The two issues are the lie and that she couldn’t tell you honestly what she wanted. This can mean that she loves you so much that she couldn’t bear to devastate you, or she dreads consequences, which is more common. Burying your head in the sand will just tell her you’ve given up on her.
Make yourself a safe person to talk to. Your first response should be acceptance. The next question you should ask her should be, “Does this fit in with who you want to be?” Build a relationship so your children feel close to you. Take them out, discuss your issues, and make decisions with them. The more a teenager feels loved and included the more likely she’ll stay where she is and not search for affection somewhere else. Kids will discover that adults treat other adults as potential liars. Teach them the concept of “kabdeihu v’chasdeihu.” Be cordial but cautious, so that they don’t perceive it erroneously as dishonesty.
At some point you will want to teach children the value of thinking honestly. Teach them about judging others favorably. You can look at people in different ways, but the more encompassing way would have to include the person’s higher self. When children hear that, they become far more honest. Their need to demonize people is stilled. Then they can go on to become true ovdei Hashem.