Or so he thinks. My child dealing with attachment issues/Reactive Attachment Disorder/DSED/ODD hears me lie all the time. If I say, “If the weather stays nice, we can go play at the park this afternoon.” A severe thunderstorm comes up at noon, and it rains sideways all afternoon, obviously, we’re not going to the park. Obviously – to me, not to him. To him, I lied. I said I was going to take him to the park and I didn’t. Black and white. No gray. No caveats. No exceptions.
When we are dealing with our kids who lie (and I think of Meghan Trainor’s “Your Lips Are Moving”) and they are convinced of the truth of their statements, even when confronted with proof of the lie, they will stick to their story, we need to remember – this is a brain issue. It appears as a behavioral issue, it drives us crazy as a defiance issue – but this is a brain/thinking disorder. It didn’t really occur to me that way until my child burst into tears after an event such as the one described above and he was crying that I lied to him again. It absolutely flabbergasted me. How could we possibly go to the park in such weather? But to him, in his black and white thinking, in his crazy little world, there were no exceptions. I had lied.
That doesn’t mean we accept lies and say, oh it’s ok, you have a brain disorder. It’s not like a seizure. There still needs to be consequences and learning and training and explaining. But maybe, if we view the lies from the point of view that it’s quite possible that in this child’s mind, he is telling the truth, because his thinking is screwed up, his mind is miswired, it won’t upset us as parents so much. It won’t feel quite so personal. Now for some children you can tell that they are lying on purpose. For others, you’re simply not sure. It’s for those “not sure” situations that you might want to sit back and take a moment to breath, and think that maybe the kid thinks he is telling the truth. His mind has convinced him this is the truth and his survival depend on convincing you this is the truth. Yes, it’s delusional. And just like monsters in the closet, it is no less real to him.
If we don’t take the lying so personally, which is extremely difficult as parents, perhaps we can calmly talk our children through the steps of reality. Perhaps we can at least model the steps they need to take in their thinking, even if they can’t take it right now. Over time, maybe it will sink it. But if nothing else, at least us realizing that this is part of the brain disorder, part of the trauma brain, we can keep our cool and handle it better. Just a thought. Or maybe I’m just talking to myself, and that’s ok too, because I definitely need to remember this.
Keepin’ it real.