Parenting Adopted Children: Nonsensical Lying Makes Sense

Dear Parents,

Nonsensical lying makes sense. It really does if you understand the internal workings of children who come from difficult beginnings.

Nonsensical lying is triggered by exactly the same things that trigger emotionally dysregulated meltdowns–PURE FEAR, a pervasive sense of fear of the unknown, fear of authority, fear of change, fear of danger, fear of vulnerability, fear of being “in-trouble,” fear of feeling shame, fear of abuse, fear of being out-of-control, fear of giving up control, fear of deprivation, fear of powerlessness, fear of loss, fear of abandonment, fear of dying–fear of you. Fear.

When your child lies to you,  assure your child that you are a safe person to tell the truth to, and then be a safe person to tell the truth to. Oh yeah, that is the hard part. We parents usually have as much hard work to do on responding to our children’s lying as our children do.

Children do not stop lying because of punishment. Fear of punishment will cause more and more intricate, insistent lying.

A Story

My daughter is 23 years old. She still lies to me when “caught” doing near anything that she believes will cause me to disapprove of her. Even if I am not asking, she will lie to me prophylactically. It’s kind of incredible.

She is an adult now, so I rarely care what she does; when she does it; where she goes; or who she sees. I really don’t care. It’s not my life, and she will have to experience whatever consequences life dishes up, as a result of her choices.

Now that we are both older, ha, we can talk more honestly about lying. Yesterday, after a ridiculously elaborate lie, I told her that lying to me is wasting her energy.

She stopped in her tracks, tears in her eyes saying, “Mom, I just really want so much for you to be proud of me.”

Hugging her, I am so very proud of you, sweetheart. Nothing you can do will make that go away. I’m your mom.  I love you.

I know, Mom, but I’m so afraid in this horrible, deep achy way in my chest–it actually hurts– that one day I will break you, and burn my bridge with you forever, and you’re all I’ve got.  My life is so f’d up and I can never seem to get it right,” she continued through rivers of tears.

I know you are afraid. It’s painful for you because you did lose your birth mom. I know you don’t think you can trust love, especially mom love.  So, I will keep telling you forever that you can’t break my love. You can break the bank, but not my love. We both had a good laugh, because that is so tragicomedically true, and her tears stopped.

I am going to keep working on being safe enough for you to be honest with.

“I’ll work on being less afraid, so I can tell the truth,” she said.

The Moral

Dear parents, this girl will lie to me before the sun sets today.  I could make some serious Benjamins betting on that in Vegas. As much as she wants to tell me the truth, her body-deep, pre-verbal fear from early childhood trauma squeezes the air out of her chest and she feels like she might die–burn the bridge to the only true love she has ever had. Boom, lie.

Love matters,


The Attach Place Upcoming Events Calendar

Look what is coming at the end of August…August 28th to be exact.

For more Mastermind information, click here.

AUTISM Support Group:  Monthly Strictly Social Autism Spectrum Disorder Night for Tweens (11 yrs – 16 yrs) at The Attach Place. Open to the public.  NEW DAY: Every third Monday from 5:30 to 7pm.  Gluten-free snacks provided. Please RSVP to so we get enough snacks. This is a  monthly social group for the youth; and caregivers will have an opportunity to connect, chat, and chill in a separate space. There will also be occasional fun field trips, like bowling, ice skating, roller skating, etc. A donation of $5.00 will be accepted for food and supervision if you are able, but please don’t let that be an attendance barrier because the group is FREE.  ASD kids need a social life and this is a great way to make it happen.

UPCOMING ONLINE ADOPTION SUPPORT GROUP facilitated by Ce Eshelman, LMFT:   Adoptive Parent Support Group, July 10th, 2019.   Support Group is every 2nd Wednesday of every month from 6 pm to 8 pm online. Open to the public.  If you would like a link to the webinar, reply to this post with Adoption Support Group in the subject line.

GIVE A BOOK OF SUPPORT TO A FELLOW PARENT ON THE ADOPTION JOURNEY: Drowning With My Hair On Fire: Insanity Relief For Adoptive Parents by Ce Eshelman, LMFT.  Daily inspirational reading for those who sometimes find it hard to keep hope alive. There is hope for healing.  Buy from Amazon or order a discounted copy here.




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