What’s the best way to deal with having told a lie?

annakellyjelly asks: I created an iMessage account without my parents knowing. My friends know, so I was sick and in the hospital and I texted my friend this morning. I told my friend I was sick and I was in the hospital, she called and my mom answered. My friend asked for me and my mom said I wasn’t feeling well, my friend said that she knew because I was in the hospital. So my mom asked her how she knew… My mom does not think I told anyone anything, she thought it was just her and her parents and my dad and sis who knew because I had just come out of the hospital. My mom asked my friend how she knew. When my friend realized she had just screwed up, so she said that this girl in our class had told her. My mom wants me to ask the girl how she knows when I go to school tomorrow, and tomorrow is a half-day, so what do I do? Should I tell my mom about iMessage or just make something up? If I make something up what should I say? If I tell the truth how do I say it? I mean I am only 10. Help!!!

Hi annakellyjelly –



I have to be honest with you about this.


When I say that, I don’t mean that I think I should be honest with you, I’m saying that I literally have to be honest with you. And that’s because dogs don’t lie. We simply don’t know how to.


Some people think dogs lie to them. They’ll feed their dog, and an hour later that pooch is whining and looking longingly at them, asking for food, and they’ll say “Stop lying! I already fed you!” But the dog isn’t lying. The dog is saying he would really like something to eat. And that’s the truth!


The reason I bring this up is that I’m no good at helping people come up with good lies. I just don’t have the brains for it.


But you know what I find? I find most people aren’t all that great at it either. For example, we always hear that politicians are great liars. But the reason we hear about politicians lying is that they get caught at it so often! They’ll lie about who they’re making secret deals with, they’ll lie about what they’re going to do if elected, they’ll lie about who they’re romantically involved with, they’ll lie about why they want to go to war, they’ll lie about specifics of a program they’re putting through… and they get caught on every one of them! (If you haven’t figured this out, the list of lies I just gave includes every US president of the last 34 years!)


And this is what’s bad about lying. Lies aren’t always morally wrong; sometimes lying is the nicest thing to do. You might lie to a friend that they look good in that dress, or that you’re not really mad at them, and you’re doing no harm, just being nice. You might tell a bigger lie, to protect a person’s life, someday. That might be really noble – a higher good than we dogs can do. But even if the lie is completely kind and honorable, it’s still always taking the chance of being caught as a lie.


So, my friend, that seems to be what happened to you. There was a lie (certainly not a horrible or mean one), and your friend made an honest mistake, and now it looks like you’re going to get caught in it.


So my advice? I would say to own up to it. Admit to your mom that you created the account, which she’d said not to do. You might get in some trouble. But at the same time, she’s probably going to be impressed that you were so honest. And if she sees that this is hard for you, she’ll probably go pretty easy on you too, and see this as an important growing-up experience (which it is).


One day, I was in a room that has a small bookshelf with a plant on it, in front of a window. Our neighbors came by that window, and I always love barking at them to startle them (it’s so fun to see them jump!). So I lunged at the window and barked as loud as I could – and knocked the plant onto the floor. The container broke, and dirt spilled all over the place. Then Handsome ran into the room to see what the noise was, saw the huge mess, and shouted out “Oh NO!!” at how big a cleanup he had to do. I felt awful. If I was human, I would have burst out crying. But as it was, I just collapsed to the ground. My eyes squeezed shut, I felt so bad! I hadn’t wanted to do anything to hurt Handsome, I just wanted to play with the people next door! And here he was so upset!


And Handsome saw what I did. And suddenly, he wasn’t mad anymore. Instead, he saw my pain, and his heart just melted. He hugged me, kissed me on the forehead, and said “It’s okay, knucklehead, I’m not all that upset. It’s just a plant. You just get too excited.” And all was fine.


Real honesty has that effect on people. Now I can’t guarantee that your mom will react like Handsome, but if you walk up to her and tell her exactly what you did, my guess is that she won’t be able to be too angry with you. Maybe you could say something like “Mom, I have a really tough confession to make. I’m really sorry, but I went against the rule you made, and it’s created a big mess, and I don’t want it to get any worse. I feel bad about it already, and now it’s making problems for other people, and they don’t deserve that.” And then tell her what you did.


Will you get some sort of punishment for breaking the rules? Probably. Maybe you’ll lose computer privileges for a while. But the lie will be over. You won’t ever have to worry about covering it up or making up further lies for it ever again. Your life will actually get easier.


And eventually, when she’s ready, you’re going to be allowed to create an iMessage account anyway. Or maybe, by that time, technology will have changed and you’ll have some other, even cooler, way to communicate with your friends.


And those friends of yours, I’m guessing, will know that their friend annakellyjelly is a really great friend. One who is very aware of what’s at risk when one’s not honest. Because she learned a very tough lesson, way back when she was ten.




Best of luck, my friend!




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