Hi and thank you. I hate to say I’m desperate but I feel like I am. The quick – my sister passed 3 years ago from lung cancer, I have taken sole custody of my 12 year old niece. She was 9 when my sister passed and 7 when my sister was diagnosed. My Niece’s father passed before she was born. I am the sole caregiver. No real family support – we are in Colorado – any family that does exist is in NY.
My question is, my Niece lies a lot. Or so I feel she lies a lot. My sister had made a comment before she passed about her lying/sneakiness so this pre-existed my sister passing.
I really need help with someone head checking me that the amount she lies is more than normal and making sure that I am not overreacting. The damage that is happening is compounding but if I am not realistic – I need to go differently. Although I did take her to a therapist weekly for 6 months and she admitted that she was lying. The therapist never said I was over-reacting but I am not handling as well as I was at that time (which wasn’t great then – so now, I’m getting towards yelling and resentment).
It ebbs and flows I think. Or either she just doesn’t get caught for awhile. But during the worse times – daily. During the mediocre times…seems to be weekly. Over stupid stuff. No, I am careful not to set her up when I know the answer. Sometimes I will ask her about something and we are both standing in the facts…she’ll just lie. Example – She’s not supposed to sleep on the couch downstairs (for 6 months she had been peeing on it repeatedly – never saying anything). I think that it is resolved but I don’t want her sleeping on the couch until I am sure. I walk down there and she is sleeping on the couch. I wake her up and tell her to go to bed. She says OK. I walk away. I come back after 10 minutes and she’s sitting on the couch. I ask her what she is doing. She tells me she’s been reading. I say to her ‘what do you mean you have been reading? I just woke you up.’ She answers defensively ‘No you didn’t. I’ve been reading for the last hour.’ Or I will say to her ‘Let’s not wear the shirts that are 14-16 until you outgrow the 10-12’. She’ll agree. A week later I will find the 14-16 in the wash. I will tell her again ‘Hey, I thought we agreed that you won’t wear the 14-16?’ She answers affirmatively. ‘OK well then put them to the side for now.’ A week later, doing the wash, all the 14-16’s are in the wash. I’ll ask her about it and she will tell me ‘No. I’ve been wearing the 10-12’s.’ I will respond with the obvious. She’ll then respond. ‘I have been wearing the 10-12’s.’Then I will show her all the shirts and I get the next response. ‘Oh, well I thought you meant not to wear the one’s that you just bought.’
And let me say, that every time she lies, there is a repercussion. She has to sit at the kitchen table (not comfortable at all). She has lied so much that she can be there for an entire week – doesn’t change anything. Really she is probably up to sitting at the table for a month but I just can’t do it. But I am being consistent and haven’t given up – but I end up being punished as well.
So tell me whether I am being unreasonable, overbearing in my belief that there isn’t some compulsion here? If I am the problem it is actually easier to solve clearly. But right now, after three years, I am worried that I am not enough and that she shouldn’t be with me. Which is a huge decision to make and one that I am truly struggling with emotionally. So before I start heading down that path…I need someone to tell me whether my expectations are too high. Also, if I shouldn’t be so focused on the lying and issuing punishment – tell me another option that I can do in its place? I’m so lost…scared…
Also, please know, whether this has any bearing at all. She’s a nice kid. She’s not a mean, grumpy type. Likeable. I really feel like the bad person here.
Trust me, I have no problem going to therapy and do. But no one is helping me understand what is reasonable.