Q: How can I get my teenage daughter to stop lying? I’ve caught her telling “tall tales,” and now she’s complaining that the kids at school don’t believe anything she says. What should I do?
Jim: I’d suggest you start by trying to uncover the underlying motive for her lying. Chances are it’s a play for attention. She may not feel confident and secure about who she is — and may be trying desperately to gain her peers’ respect.
If this scenario seems plausible, the roots of the problem may lie within the circle of your immediate family. Life’s demands can easily siphon off the attention our kids need, and it may be that your daughter just wants to be reassured of your love. Consider looking for opportunities to spend some one-on-one time together. Ask her if there’s anything she’d like to talk about. If her problem with lying has a domestic basis, you may be able to affect a solution without ever moving beyond the home front.
But if this approach falls flat — if the lies seem designed purely to get a response from her peers — then you’ll want to paint a vivid picture of the negative effect lying will have on her relationships with them: If her friends feel she can’t be trusted, they won’t want to spend time with her. This, of course, is exactly the opposite of what she’s looking for. Help her understand that, and you may start seeing some real progress.
Regardless, firm consequences for lying, such as taking away privileges, may also be necessary. Don’t get pulled into a debate with her about whether or not she told the truth. Just deal with the behavior in a decisive way — act, don’t yak. Please contact our counselors if we can help in any way.
Q: My wife and I have been married for three years. A year into our marriage she began sleeping in another bedroom because my snoring was keeping her awake. We still get along great, but physical intimacy has diminished significantly, and our relationship feels more like we’re housemates. What can we do?
Greg Smalley, Vice President, Family Ministries: Surprisingly, the arrangement you’ve described is becoming less uncommon. A recent survey by Ryerson University in Toronto suggests that between 30 to 40 percent of couples are now opting for separate sleeping arrangements. While a good night’s sleep is important to both physical and marital health, I personally feel that the benefits of a husband and wife sharing a bed are worth exhausting every effort to find a solution.
If you haven’t already, make an appointment with your physician. Causes for snoring can sometimes be minor and easily remedied. Your doctor can assess your situation and, if necessary, refer you to a sleep specialist. If the cause of your snoring is determined to be obstructive sleep apnea, your doctor may prescribe a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine or may recommend an oral appliance that repositions the jaw or tongue.
In the meantime, do whatever is necessary to jumpstart your sex life so you’re enjoying physical intimacy together on a regular basis. Schedule an “appointment” if you need to. It may not sound very romantic, but it’s that important. I’d also recommend that, while you’re working toward getting back to your former sleeping arrangement, you start off in the same bed before one of you moves to the next room for the night. The quiet and uninterrupted time together can encourage emotional and physical intimacy so crucial to a strong and vibrant marriage. Please call us at 855-771-HELP (4357) if we can help in any way.
Jim Daly is a husband and father, an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program. Catch up with him at www.jimdalyblog.com or at www.facebook.com/DalyFocus.