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Should Teen Be Grounded for Lying to Parents?

Middle School Expert Advice from Connie Collins

Q: My 16-year-old daughter has been obsessed with getting her nose pierced. We told her she couldn't do it now and that we thought she should wait until she's 18 to make such choices. She went ahead and did it anyway, lying to us and to the man who pierced her nose -- she said she was 18. We grounded her indefinitely, until we feel that she has earned our trust again and that she has been punished both for lying and disobeying us. What do you think?

A: As parents we are often hurt and terribly disappointed when our children disobey us, and especially if they lie to us. I am not sure about what lie your daughter told, but I am assuming that she lied about where she was going when she went to have her nose pierced. She broke your trust.

Grounding, no matter how long, is usually not very effective and is sometimes very hard to enforce. First, I suggest you sit down with your daughter and state very firmly what your feelings are about her betrayal of your trust. Don't talk about the reasons you didn't want her to get her nose pierced. Next, impose some or all of these consequences, which might be somewhat more logical and natural. Say something like, "Because of the choices you made to disobey and lie to us, we, as parents, also have to make some choices about your behavior in our home. You will have to build back the trust you lost. You may not go to ... for a month. "(If she used a certain place or friend as her excuse to get out to do the piercing, mention this place or person.)

You can also say: "Although we cannot control what you do outside our home, we do set the rules in our home and you may not wear the nose stud when you're here or when you're with us." Be very firm on this. Don't let her sit down with the family for dinner unless she has removed the stud.

Keep focused on consequences for her making the choice not to follow your rules. Don't think of it as punishment. You don't need revenge -- you need to be able to trust her as part of your family. It's her responsibility now to rebuild that trust.

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Connie Collins, professional school counselor, worked for 35 years in public education as a teacher and counselor at the middle school and secondary levels. Collins worked daily with the parents of the students in her various schools, and has facilitated several parenting groups.


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