Randi Kreger has brought the concerns of people who have a family member with borderline personality disorder (BPD) and narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) to an international forefront through her best-selling books, informative website, and popular online family support community Welcome to Oz.
Why Do Borderline Teens Lie (And What to Do About It)?
This blog post is from our book Hope for Parents. You can find it in our store on BPDCentral.com.
Some children with BPD are often adept at telling stories and inventing information that they present as true. Susan, a mother with a borderline adolescent, used to run an online support group for parents of offspring with BPD. She says that the children of the parents in the support group deliberately told serious lies. These lies unraveled, but often not until much damage had occurred. For example, one girl spread rumors around school that an honors student was pregnant.
Susan's support group parents were surprised at first at how easily these lies slipped out of their childrens' mouths--and at how convincing these lies were. Susan's daughter Wendy falsely complained of being violently abused; the authorities were about to remove Wendy and her older sister Caitlin from the home until Caitlin managed to convince the authorities that the accusations were untrue. Some families are not as lucky.
These "purposeful lies," as we'll call them, are told for the same reasons that nearly all of us lie: to get out of trouble, to appear more socially acceptable, to obtain revenge, and to get attention. The difference is that because of the impulsive nature of BPD, children with BPD may not be able to stop themselves from lying as easily as a typical child.
But some children with BPD seem to lie when it would be just as easy not to do so, a subject that to my knowledge has not been studied.
One mother successfully used an "amnesty approach" to encourage her child to stop lying. She talked with her daughter about the problems her lies had caused. Then she made a deal with her daughter: if she 'fessed up" about a lie, they would not punish her for it.
At first, the daughter owned up to a few lies weeks after the fact. But gradually, the time between the lie and the "confession" shortened. Then she began stopping in the middle of a lie, admitting it, and starting her story over again.
"Finally there came a lie that never happened," the mother says. "She stopped herself while thinking of a story to tell me and convinced herself that the truth would be the right way to approach the problem. We celebrated because we both knew she had overcome the temptation to lie!"
This child said she did not know why she lied except that having something exciting happening to her, good or bad, made her feel important and gave her a sense of identity.
Sometimes, children with BPD seem to have difficulty distinguishing fantasy from reality and are convinced that what they believe is true. Other times, they clearly understand that what they are saying cannot be true, but they are so locked into their story that they seem unable to back down.
Says one parent, "I have always wondered if they actually believe their lies or tell them so much they can't really tell where the lies end and the truth begins. Rarely have I seen any guilt for telling the lies."
If you have a borderline child, I recommend the books Borderline Personality Disorder in Adolescents by Blaise Aguirre, MD. Another great book is Parenting a Child WIth Intense Emotions by Pat Harvey. You can get great online support by joining the free online group WTOParentsOfPs. Just send a blank email to WTOParentsOfBPsfirstname.lastname@example.org comments powered by Disqus
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