Compulsive lying & attention seeking
I am really worried about my 16 year old. She lies all the time. We are not just talking about little lies either. She has alleged to friends that she has been raped (so may times - different people - and generally at a time we can totally disprove) she says shes been pregnant, had cancer, had surgery. It goes on and on. No only worrying others but setting a really poor example for her almost 5 year old brother. I am her stepmum she lives with me part time. Her mother is generally her full time carer and although worried - things just seem to go on and no real improvement is seen.. Partly as no one wants to upset the child. our family sounds dysfunctional but it is actually really good. I am separated from childs father but we are now great friends we (all 4 parents) are always there for her and she knows it. She learn't at an early age to fake illness for attention. My concern is that her lies are getting bigger and more risky. She could accuse someone of rape and ruin there life. Or worse it may actually happen and no one may believe her. Her friends know she's lying so eventually she will lose them too.
How can I help her?? I love her so much and am at a loss of what to do. I am single 36 year old mum with a almost 5 year old recovering from Post traumatic stress (he & i were in car accident may last year) My stepdaughters mum is leaving town for work and my stepdaughter will be with me full time. Scares the hell out of me, how can I help her? I have edited as sounds like I was being judgemental of the other parents. We all 4 adore the child and in our own way are trying to help her. Just so frustating
Last edited by Stressedmum; 03-20-2005 at 10:30 PM.
This girl needs professional help, and quickly. Those kinds of lies at age 16 are not normal and quite dangerous. Please get her to a good, well-credentialled therapist soon, preferably a female one. Her behavior could indicate a serious disorder, although having her significant adults keep disappearing on her as they have could account for this as well.
Please let us know how you make out.
Dr. Mike Bradley
16 year old
16 year old now with me full time. Her stepdad and dad still around but neither playing a significant role in her life. I am getting her to a psychologist. She is doing a little better with a stable home life even though its been really hard to have 2 really demanding children. My 4 year old was diagnosed with post traumatic stress last year. Mostly recovered but his behaviour is still being worked on and now my stepdaughter. I have to watch her closely to ensure she eats, sleeps and generally looks after herself but her lies seem to either be better hidden or reducing. Thanks for your advice we are hanging in there
Still my 16 year old
Currently with mental health but I am concerned she is already manipulating the counsellor. Do I assume counsellor can see this?
CHild lies about everything, Begun a internet/sms relationship with a male ex teacher from her school who had moved away. Became a concern for us. He visited town she snuck out to see him and was with him alone for nearly 3 hours. Teacher was approached by dept of ed and is now suspended. Child sees nothing wrong with her behaviour. Principal suggested time off school, she was unhappy with this and has convinced counsellor to talk principal into allowing her back after only 3 days. I am scared to death, the moment she gets back to school, it will all start again. She has not really been adversely affected by this. But others have. How can I protect her from herself? 1 day ago she was saying she would kill herself it she could not be with him and laughing about her current teacher who had got himself in trouble for trying to protect her!
It is vital that you and your daughter meet with the counselor together so that you can spell out your concerns with your daughter there. This gives the counselor lots of information that helps her or him to best help your daughter. After 30 years of doing this work, I am still amazed how I get "taken in" by kids and parents when I don't get the opportunity to see them together.
Be sure to underscore the seriousness of your daughter's risk-taking behavior. The more you speak about your daughter, the more I think that a psychiatric evaluation might be helpful as well. Consult with your counselor about this.
Please keep us posted.
Dr. Mike Bradley
I have a similar problem. My 16 year daughter is a compulsive lier. First off my husband and I are happily together. We make decent money, We don't fight, Drink excessively or smoke/drugs. We only have the one child and we love her very much and she knows it. Yes I suppose we do spoil her... we go on trips, buy nice clothes, let her take xtra curricular programs and support her with unconditional love regardless. Really we have a pretty good life. Around the age of 13 she started getting really argumentative, started hating us and just turned completely miserable with every intention of making us miserable too. It was hard times but we made this far. At first I was in shock that she was behaving like that. We were always so close but I accepted that times were changing she was a teenager and I needed to change and adapt. We went on a holiday to Australia and she met a boy there which after we went home she continued to have contact with. At first they were in love and planned on a long distance relationship. This is when most of the lying started. They were 14 and she would stay up until 4 am skyping with him. I thought if I let it be eventually common sense would kick in and she would realize she needed sleep. As the relationship deteriorated her desperation to keep it going became stronger. She started 'sexting' to keep him interested. She never slept and refused to go to school. I started turning off the internet at night, and restricting the times she could talk to him and the locations. When she couldn't keep his interest anymore she started telling him I was abusing her and that she was in the hospital. Then she said if he left her she would commit suicide. I talked to his mom and we agreed they should cut off and not talk anymore. To meet her you would never know she was capable of this. She appears quiet and shy but quite nice and in most cases cheerful. After that it was really hard she became really depressed. I put her in councelling and nothing really helped. Eventually she met other boys. with every relationship she became over demanding and insisted their constant attention. When they rejected her she went insane. It always begins with texting constantly then when they lose interest she lies about being ill, her family being ill, or dying or she is being abused. When these boy reject her its always the same pattern; 1. she becomes obsessed (has to get him back) 2. she manipulated his friends and family to get them to talk to him on her behalf to convince him that he is being a jerk and should get back together with her 3. she makes threats of hurting herself if he won't take her back. I had her in therapy again. I felt the therapist wasn't getting the real problem so I talked to the therapist and told her what had been going on. She said she didn't know any of it and that my daughter seemed happy but a little sad over a boy. This was after 6 months of therapy. When my daughter found out I had talked to the therapist she refused to go anymore.
She is 16 now her most recent relationship ended 2 weeks ago. They dated for 4 months over the summer. Then his dad got a transfer out of the country. She didn't like this so she tried to convince him to stay without them. Of course he didn't. She told him she had lung disease and was going to die in 3 months, She told him I was verbally abusing her and calling her worthless, (which I would never do) she said she was pregnant. none of this worked so she told people at school that she had lung disease and that if they don't find her a new lung in 3 months she will die and now her boyfriend is dumping her for his family. Could they please talk to him on her behalf. As it turns out someone told him she wasn't really sick or pregnant and that she is trying to manipulate him to stay. He got furious and called her a bunch of awful names and said he hated her with a passion and never wants to talk to her again. So he is gone now and she is trying to find a way to get him back. She can't stand him hating her so she is trying to get people including myself to contact him on her behalf and plead her case. The kids at school now realize she isn't dyeing of lung disease and don't want anything to do with her. She is absolutely miserable and is saying that she wants to die. I try to be encouraging and supportive. I hug her and tell her how much I love her and things will get better. We talked about why she didn't tell the truth and she admitted that he paid more attention to her when he thought she was sick. I take her out for lunch and try to be there for her but she is still lying to people and they are getting bigger and bigger. She tells me she doesn't want to live anymore but in the back of my mind I wonder if this is just to manipulate me. She mopes around with no real effort to make her life better because everyone is being nice to her since they can see how upset and depressed she is. I'm not sure how much more I can help her. I tried getting her counseling I try getting her involved in things like cheerleading I try getting her involved in school but nothing seems to be effective. And I fear she is addicting to this negative attention. Am I being too supportive? Should I just ignore her depression? Am I just feeding her addiction?
Just as with the prior parent this is too serious an issue to not confront strongly. Your daughter needs an evaluation by a qualified psychologist or psychiatrist to determine the root of this and to get her the treatment she needs. From your description she may be struggling with something called Münchausen syndrome, which you should read about in advance of seeing the shrink. It is critical that you be involved in the evaluation to give the doc the real deal on her behavior. Tell her that you love her too much to not attack this issue, which can take over her life and deprive her of any decent relationships. Ask her to think overnight about going. If/when she refuses, tell her that this is so important and so potentially dangerous that until she starts treatment, she must forego all electronic communication devices and non-school activities. Emphasize that you hate doing this but that you love her too much to not protect her from something that could hurt her so terribly much.
Take care and good luck.
Dr. Mike Bradley