Dear Annie: My son, “Quentin,” has always had a problem telling the truth. It started in kindergarten and became worse over time. He’s a grown man now and will lie about anything from what he was doing an hour ago to whether he lost his job.
Quentin had an affair during his first marriage and when his wife forgave him, he did it again. He has two children from that marriage whom he refuses to see. He says their mother insisted he stay away and threatened to have him arrested if he tried to visit, but I know that’s not true. The only plausible reason he could be arrested is if he’s behind on his child support.
Quentin remarried and his second wife lies just as much as he does. Neither of them can keep a job, and now they have a child together and another on the way.
How can I help Quentin see what he is doing to himself and his children? How do I get him to stop lying? I took him to counseling when he was a child, but the therapist simply said Quentin had an active imagination and would grow out of it.
I can’t afford therapy and am uncomfortable discussing this with my pastor. I believe an intervention might help, but I doubt I could get my husband or the rest of the family to participate because they won’t even speak to Quentin. What is a worried mother to do? – Worried Mom
Dear Mom: Quentin must recognize the negative impact of his lies and want to stop. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case, which means nothing you do is likely to make a difference in his behavior, especially since his wife will undercut your efforts. Right now, the only person who will benefit from counseling is you.
Contact the United Way, YMCA, local hospitals, university psychology departments and graduate school counseling departments, the American Association of Pastoral Counselors (aapc.org), 9504A Lee Highway, Fairfax, VA 22031-2303; and the American Counseling Association (counseling.org) at (800) 347-6647.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Scared Mother,” who thinks her daughter is shoplifting because she has found expensive items in her room.
Maybe Mom should be worried about some adult buying this stuff for her daughter. In high school, I had friends who would meet these much older guys who would try to “buy” them for sex, nude photographs and other things. – Just a Thought in California
Dear California: Thanks for pointing out that alarming possibility. We hope “Scared Mother” will talk to her daughter and find out what’s really going on.