Stepchildren can be one of the best blessings you can have when it comes to parenthood. The new family member can bring in a different type of feeling and create a new experience for everyone. A big issue that does arise in blended families is trust. If you are wondering what to do when a stepchild lies about you, it will take some creative thinking to come to an amicable solution.
Asses The Situation
The first thing that needs to be done is to assess the situation at hand. Before you emotionally react, you have to logically analyze the situation and find out why it happened.
Was the lie a small one or did they really break your trust with what they have done?
Age also plays a role in how you decide to handle things. Are they a young child that is most likely scared or does not understand the concept of telling the truth, or is it an older child that understands lying is a bad trait but they still did it anyway? Another important factor that will play a role in what you do is how often they have lied about you in the past. Is this their first time doing it or has lying been used by them over multiple occasions?
You will always experience people not telling the truth, the point is to understand why and how to fix the issue, not to emotionally react right away.
Magnitude of Stepchild’s Lie
Not all lies are created equal. There’s a difference between your stepchild saying “they took my toy” and “they hit me”. Some lies are harmless and are a good opportunity to teach your child a lesson about honesty. On the other hand, some lies, no matter how young the stepchild, could break a family.
The magnitude of the lie should determine your response.
If the lie is minor then there is a good chance you can handle the situation yourself as a step-parent. Simply follow the “talk to the stepchild” section below and get the situation straightened out. All children lie at one point. Catching them in a lie is a perfect opportunity to teach them the importance of honesty.
Honesty is one of the most important character traits of an adult and it is our responsibility to start teaching our children how to be honest with themselves and others.
On the other hand, if the lie is of a large magnitude, you’ll want to get your partner involved right away. I’ve coached families where preteen stepchildren have actually lied about being assaulted by a stepparent. Then a deep investigation by authorities has come to a definitive conclusion the child was lying.
Unfortunately, these kinds of things happen and you need to be equipped to protect yourself from these kinds of accusations. Have your partner collect as much information as possible.
If you’re lucky, your partner will remain neutral until they’ve heard both sides but don’t be surprised if they side with their child right away. It is a normal instinct as a parent to get protective whenever they sense a threat towards their children, whether it is real or not.
Talk To The Stepchild
The next step in what to do when a stepchild lies about you is to have a conversation with them and ask why. You have the right to get the proper answer out of them because lying about someone is one of the worst things you can do.
Damaging someone’s reputation falsely can ruin many relationships and even start potential fights.
When approaching the situation, try to not be confrontational about it because once they see that you are acting out of emotion, this will offset the who goal.
Remember, the goal here is to get the most truthful answer out of them because this will give you an idea of why this situation happened. You do not want to ruin that chance by confronting them and setting the tone of the conversation negatively right from the beginning.
In many cases, it might be best to have their biological parent be the one to talk to them. This is critical if you feel your stepchild in that “you vs them” mindset. By having a conversation with them yourself, you could risk escalating the situation further.
What To Do When Stepchild Lies About You
Depending on how old they are and how many times they have done this, you will have to approach it in a specific way.
1. Young (3-10 years old)
If they are young, this was most likely done out of impulsiveness and they did not think about what they are saying. They do not know how much lying affects people compared to someone who is old enough to understand.
You should highlight that lying is a bad trait and explain to them why it should not be used in any situation. Explain to them the value of telling the truth and the concept of trust.
Once a child learns to lie they’ll typically do so until explicitly told otherwise. I mean think about it, if they broke a cup, they could just blame it on the dog and all their problems go away. In their eyes lying just became a solution to their problem. It is our job to discourage that kind of behavior.
Rather than getting angry, take the time to explain to them the importance of telling the truth. It may be many years before they truly understand the power of honesty but you must make moves to stop it in its tracks now.
2. Older (11+ year old)
If they are older and you know that at that age, they should have a sense of how dangerous lying can be, the conversation is going to be handled differently.
Even though you are their stepparent, they should still treat and respect you as they would for their biological parents. The act of lying, especially about a close family member, should not be tolerated in any family.
Family is about trust and if they can’t even be conscious of that at an older age, they will need to understand that what they have done should never happen again.
How Many Times Have They lied About You
1. First Time
If it is their first time, try to reason with them and see what might have cause them to do that. Ask if they have anything against you or if they are upset with you.
Many times, people lie about someone because they either are upset with them or sadly, they just don’t like them at all.
It’s also quite common for children to lie because it gets them attention. Children absolutely love attention and lying is an easy way to get lots of attention from adults. This can be common if the child feels neglected. I’ve seen this the most in new blended families where the child is getting less attention in their new family then they did in their previous family.
2. Multiple Times
If they have lied multiple times, you will need to set them straight and have a serious conversation with them. In a calm but serious tone, explain to them that this has been happening multiple times and it needs to stop.
You need to explain to them that this trait of lying will not get them far in life once people start to notice.
If they are doing this to you constantly, they are most likely doing it to other people which is a bigger problem that needs to be dealt with.
It can hurt when your stepchild lies about you. You feel betrayed and angry all at the same time. The important thing to remember is that they are likely not doing it out of spite. Rather than getting overly defensive and frustrated, take the time to find the root cause of the lie so you can address it directly.
Also, it may be best keep your partner involved in the actions of their child. Collect as much information as possible to defend yourself against these accusations.
Catching a child in a lie is a good way to correct that behavior and hopefully prevent it from reoccurring. This can be a good opportunity to get your stepchild to stop lying for good.