Why Do Liars Lie?

It begins at a young age: children are taught to lie by their parents.

They are taught to smile and say thank you when given an awful gift from an aunt, to not hurt other’s feelings, and to say the disgusting food was delicious when it was made by a friendly neighbor. We were told these lies were okay because all a parent wants is a kind and respectable child. Though as children age, they learn to lie about other things, lie to their parents, and lie more sneakily.

Getting away with a lie becomes addicting. According to the article “Learning to Lie” by Po Bronson, children aren't going through lying “phases,” like many parents assume, but instead are becoming better and more frequent liars.

According to Po Bronson, lying is skill children learn as they grow, much like other skills they learn, from walking, to spelling, or talking. As they grow up, some children become better liars than other. In a way, lying is related to intelligence, according to Dr. Victoria Talwar, a leading expert on children’s lying behavior.

By teenage years you could argue children have now become experts on lying.

If a parent truly believes their child has never hide anything from them, they are wrong. A teenager’s reasoning for this, I can say from first hand experience, is “what a parent doesn't know won’t hurt them.” But does this justify a lie?

The reason lying is so popular, especially among teenagers, is because telling parents a small lie is easier than facing the backlash parents might have.

A typical conversation might go:

“No mom, it’s not a party.”

“Will her parents be home?”

“Of course.”

“Okay, have fun!”

That’s it. From a teenagers perspective, this is much quicker and easier than admitting the event indeed is a party, and no, there won’t be parents there. Lying, a sign of disrespect in a parent’s mind, is just a small, sarcastic “whoops” to the teenager.

Lying is like rolling a ball of snow. It builds as you continue. Teenagers are aware that the more they lie, the bigger the lies build up, and the more serious the consequences may be. As Po Bronson put it, “The shepherd boy ends up suffering the ultimate punishment.”

We, teenagers, know what is at stake, and that only makes us more careful. Studies have shown that kids who are constantly exposed to greater punishment don’t lie less. Instead they become better liars.

In the end, everyone lies. Children learn to lie from their parents. Teenagers lie to their parents. Can a parent really get mad at their child for lying? After all, that’s how they raised the child. In the defense of children and teenagers, we learn to lie from the best.

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