If lying is an issue or is becoming an issue in your home, you have a bigger problem than you think. Parents tend to think that at least lying is not as bad as getting pregnant or getting drunk. But in reality, you know a good liar can cover all that up.

Perpetual lies are like cancer in a relationship. The very essence of a lie is "I can't trust you with the truth, so I will tell you what I think you want to hear." If that is the case, the very core of your relationship is a fallacy. There is no relationship. Your blood may be in their veins, but there is no relationship.

If your young person has to lie to you about the small things and finds they can get away with it, why would they not lie to you about the big things? Pretty soon, they are living a whole other life and their identity is totally shrouded from you in a cleverly manufactured set of lies.

Who I was in school and who I was in front of my parents were two completely different persons. My parents had no idea of my personality, my attitudes, or my actions at school. I was meticulous at weaving together a tapestry of deceit so they would never know what I was really like at school.

If lying is the problem, you have no basis for a relationship. The very foundation of a relationship— trust and respect—is null and void. There is no basis for trust, and it takes trust to develop a relationship. I say this to alert you. If you suspect lying, don't blow it off as not being that big of a sin. Go after it and get to the bottom of it before it develops into something much more serious.

Teach your children from an early age the importance of truth, the nature of a lie, and what integrity is all about. Don't assume that your young person knows it is wrong to lie, but help them to understand why. I recently taught my daughters about integrity as they were playing a game of Twister.

We discussed that if one of their elbows accidentally hits the ground and they lifted it back up before anyone saw, they are not really being honest. They are still young, but teaching them to be truthful in their heart at a very young age will permeate every area of their lives.

Ask yourself why your teen feels the need to lie to you. What is it they are trying to hide? Why are there secret parts of their life they don't want you to know about? Are they ashamed of them?

Afraid of what you will say? Afraid of what you will do? If they are lying about some small things, maybe there are large areas of greater concern they are also lying about.

What has caused such a gap and a barrier in your relationship that they feel the need to have a secret life? This issue is more important than the actual lying itself and gets back to the actual heart of the relationship.

If the relationship is laced with lies, there is really no relationship. It is one or two fake people pretending they are interacting in an honest way.

Instill in your young person an understanding of this principle, and mean it when you say, "Whatever you do, don't ever lie to me." Your young person needs to know that whatever has transpired, you are the first person they come running to.

Carry yourself in a way that says "No matter what you have done, no matter how bad it is, it is worse to lie."

Source: The Rescue Manual For Parents by Ron Luce.
Excerpt permission granted by Albury Publishing