Sunday Food for Thought on Teen Angst and Parenting

To Lie or not to Lie that is the Question What is a Parent to do?

What would you do? Parenting is hard. Kids don't come with instructions. Just because you can raise a baby to a teen, doesn't mean you can successfully raise a teenager. We all make mistakes. We learn together. Lying is the hardest part. Looking for advice on raising teens? Yeah... we don't have any. Enjoy!

To Lie or not to Lie that is the question what is a parent to do? Teens
My Musings on Teens and Lying.

What Would You Do?


You haven't been feeling well and you got sick during passing period at school. You stay in the bathroom for several minutes to recover.  You don't want to walk into class late - you'll feel embarrassed.

I'd go to the school nurse, tell her what happened, and ask for a pass.

Reasoning for not:  Didn't want to get sent home, wanted to go to the other classes.

Here's the kicker (s).

"When I came out of the bathroom I looked down and saw a blank hall pass in front of the lockers. I picked it up and used it to get back in class."

What? Do I look like I was born yesterday?

"It's the truth."

So... you expect me to believe that you are incredibly lucky?

"That's what happened."

Wow.  So, why do you think that happened? God is watching over you and just decided to help you skip class?

"I don't know."

Hmm... stuff like that only happens in the movies. Unless... maybe the Devil's been watching you and thinks he can get you on his team, you know?  Maybe it was a test and you passed with flying colors. Or did you fail? Anyway, if you're that lucky, we better go buy a lottery ticket.

"Okay! I saw some passes on a shelf a few weeks ago. When I came out of the bathroom, I remembered them, went back and got one."

Hmm... So, you saw these passes just lying around waiting to be taken and nobody else took them over a two-week period?

"That's right. I was surprised too."

Hmm... I bet you were.   You know, about now, your Dad would be saying something like, 'it's getting really deep in here' or 'that's a load of crap. So, what really happened?

Silence.  Anger rages.  Evil glares.

"I saw the passes a few weeks ago, I picked them up really fast, because I didn't want any STUPID people to take them and try to use them."

Hmm... Really? Why didn't you throw them away or flush them to protect the stupid?

More evil glares.

"I was in a hurry! I dropped them in a basket in my band locker.  Some of my friends walked by and saw them. They said, 'Whooo, you could use those to cut class'. That's where I got the idea."

Pfft! I want to laugh. I'm trying not to cry. My emotions are boiling over.

Am I insane? Hmm... So you're friends gave you the idea?

"Yes! I've seen STUPID people passing bogus hall passes to the teachers. The teacher look at them, say, 'this looks phony' and nothing happens. They get away with it!"

As far as you know.


As far as you know, they get away with it. The teacher probably turns it in to the office as 'bogus'.

So, let me tell you what I think happened. I think you saw the passes a few weeks ago, picked them up and put them in your locker waiting for an opportunity to use them.

Silence. Hands over face. Squinty eyes and rage ensues.

"Fine! I saw the passes and saved them to use them the NEXT time I cut class."

What? The next time?

"Yeah, I've skipped a bunch of times. I got  away with it. The teacher caught me twice but it was last period and I told her I went home early. She said if she caught me again she'd turn me in for all three times. I hate that class; it is full of STUPID people."

Hmm...  Stupid people who skip class, flunk class, and have to take learning recovery to fix their grades?


And you're different from them because...?

"I'm not STUPID!"

I bet they aren't all stupid. I bet some of them come from broken homes, or they don't have homes, or their parents are drug dealers, or they have to work to help the family and don't have time for homework, or their parents fight all night long and they don't get any sleep, or...  you get the idea. 

Don't judge. You have no idea what goes on at their house. Maybe they have a learning disability and they are doing the best they can. 

Remind me why you are in that class?

"Because, I didn't turn in my essays!"

That's right; the essay the teacher called about the first week of school to let us know you needed to turn in. The essay that was a series of essays you had already turned in. The essay she emailed me about a week later. The essay she called me about at the end of the grading period. The essay that was just a couple of paragraphs on Martin Luther King or Cesar Chavez. 

The essay, you told me you completed when I got your progress report. The essay your father and I made you do in your room.
The one you bounced down the stairs smiling saying, "It's done." 

Thank God. "That wasn't so bad," said your Dad. "Aren't you glad it's over?"

The essay your teacher called me about a week before the end of the semester. She pleaded with me to have you turn it in so you didn't fail her class. She couldn't promise more than a 'D', but she'd see what she could do because the rest of your work was on par. 

You are one of her favorite students.

The essay you told me she lost. I relayed that message and she laughed, "Unlikely, I can't believe she'd say that. They go in a basket right by the door. I'll look again but..."

The essay, you finally promised you finished and handed in, and when the grades came out and you failed AP English, you said, "She lied. I knew she'd flunk me. I knew it didn't matter!" 

What? No. She wouldn't, she couldn't... she promised. We've got to call her and talk to her about this! "We can't; she's on maternity leave." 

Hmm...  Well, that's convenient; isn't it? Please help me understand; I know you didn't turn it in.

"I'm tired of getting low scores when everyone around me cries about missing one point!"

Hmm...  So, you'd rather flunk the entire class rather than earning a 'B'?

"Yep; at least people won't think I'm stupid. I'll just tell them I flunked because I didn't turn in my homework!"

Really? Let me consult with your Dad. It's unanimous, we both agree. He says,"It's stupid to flunk a class over one stupid essay. I think that's stupid." 

Right. The grade on the essay didn't even matter. Points were received (or not) for turning in all of the essays.

Five English classes in a row. Five teachers, "You're daughter is very intelligent. Brilliant. A joy to have in class." 

Five F's. Bored, you say? The first one was regular English. We decided she could fail AP English just as easily. So, she did.  Apparently, the teacher's are stupid and the work is 'unecessary busy work'.

Are there magic words that we can use to help her understand that brilliant, intelligent people can also do stupid things that make them appear stupid?

She's got guts. I can't imagine. She signed her name to the hall pass and turned it into the librarian who asked her who wrote it. She couldn't answer. The librarian asked what classes she was coming from. The librarian called the teacher who said, "Well, she's a good kid. If she skipped class she must have had a good reason." The librarian turned it into the Dean. 

How'd I find out? Innocently, "How was school today?"

"Oh, did they call you? I knew they would. Here's what happened..."

Shock. No one called, ever. I called the counselor. She has no record of any class cutting or other things we have dealt with at school. Neither the Librarian nor the Dean contacted her. Did it really get to the Dean?I don't know.  The Dean is also her volleyball coach- who knows what a fantastic citizen she is- 'a joy to have on the team'. 

If we are never punished for our actions, won't we keep repeating them, perhaps with more intensity and boldness each time?

After all, if she is getting away with this over and over again, isn't she really smarter than the rest of us "STUPID people"?

I'm a goody two-shoes; I would have done exactly what she said, 'picked that pass up before anyone else could take it and get into trouble', but I would have thrown it away immediately.

How about you? 

Are you sure about that? What would you do?

You might also like: I've got a confession to make involving hard-core drugs. I think you'll find it very interesting.

You might like our Pinterest Board for Teens too.

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Lora is a homeschooling mom, writer, creator of Kids Creative Chaos, and Director of the Play Connection.