Parenting 101: Biggest Nightmares

Parenting 101: Biggest Nightmares
Dr. Phil talks to the parents of a teen who won't stop lying.
Patti and Denny say they're living with the nightmare of a 13-year-old daughter who won't stop lying.

Denny: Brittany lies about who she's going to be seeing and where she's going to be. I think we should put her in her room instead of just grounding her because it's apparently not working.

Patti: She lied about having boys over and convinced her two little brothers to lie for her. We've grounded her and taken away her privileges: her telephone, computer and money. And it still didn't work. I feel if she doesn't stop lying, she's going to be the kind of child who sneaks out in the middle of the night, goes out and tries smoking or drugs.
Dr. Phil: How do you feel when your daughter lies?

Patty: It makes me feel like a failure.

Denny: We're pretty open. If she likes to do things, we let her. We don't say no. She doesn't give us the opportunity to say no.

Dr. Phil: What you're going to find out is that lying behavior occurs in the extremes of the parenting continuum. If you're in a highly permissive environment, kids lie. If you're in a highly rigid and strict environment, kids lie. You may wonder, "Why would a child lie in a permissive environment when we give them everything? We let them do anything they want to do." They lie because you have given them too much freedom. They have had to make choices that they weren't equipped to make. They've done things that they know in retrospect they shouldn't have done because you gave them too much rope. And they're lying to hide those things.
Dr. Phil: Do you acknowledge that you have responsibility for her lying behavior? Notice I didn't say blame.

Denny: Kind of. I don't agree that I have total responsibility. Lying is something that we try not to have take place in our house with all of our kids.

Dr. Phil: I'm going to tell you why you are more than partially responsible. She's your daughter and it's your job to shape her behavior. I'm trying to wake you up and make you realize she's more committed to this power struggle than you are. You say, "No telephone, no Internet, no contact with anyone." Then what happens when you leave?

Denny: All of the above.

Patti: But we didn't know that each time we left, her brothers and sisters were covering for her.

Dr. Phil: Did you just come in on a load of turnips? She's 13 and you know that she is a liar! Let me tell you how you can know if she is lying: her lips are moving. You've said you want to know why she is lying? Because it works.
Patti says she believes Brittany when she says she's going to the park to play on the teeter-totter, because when she herself was 13, she used to play in the park.

Dr. Phil: When you were 13, you used to go to the park? Well listen, I haven't seen any covered wagons go by lately. She is not going to the park to teeter-totter, OK? ... Talking about all of this, isn't this bringing it home to you that you've been incredibly naive here?

Patti: No.

Dr. Phil: Look, there's no point in me building a house on sand if you don't realize she has built a pattern of lying here because people do what works. She lies to you and you believe her ... Here's the deal. You tell her she's grounded with no phone, no nothing. Then you leave her at home ... You're not enforcing it. There are no consequences.
Dr. Phil: What you have to be willing to do as parents is say, "I am willing to go the distance. If I choose a punishment, I am willing to police it. When I tell her no phone, there will be no phone, even if I have to take it out of the house." She's in gymnastics and loves it. But you won't touch that. It's not a contingency. My question to you is, how much is she going to be doing on the high bars when she's pregnant? She needs to understand that when she lies, her whole world goes to hell in a hand basket — and not just in words, in deeds ... Even if you have to strip her room down to basic bedding and a pillow.

Denny: So you don't feel it's being too hard to put her in her room and feed her through the keyhole with a straw?

Patti: Don't answer this question!

Dr. Phil turns Patti's chair around and answers Denny's question by whispering, "No."