‘My daughter tells people at school that I’m her sister’

In The Know
·3-min read

A woman discovered that her 8-year-old daughter was telling people at school that they were sisters.

She posted on the “Relationship Advice” Reddit forum to solicit feedback from users on what to do about her situation. 

In the post, she explains that she and her boyfriend had their daughter when they were 16 and 18, and are currently 24 and 26 with their daughter in the third grade. She then provides context by stating that her mother — her daughter’s grandmother — usually picks her daughter up from school or practice, while she herself picks her daughter up occasionally. And on this particular instance when she picked up her daughter, she made an interesting discovery.

“Her Athletic Banquet was yesterday. When the parents met up, they addressed me as her sister and asked if I was filling for her mom,” she wrote. “I corrected them and said that I was her mom, not her sister. They gave the same ‘[I]’m judging you but I’m trying to hide it’ face that everyone does once I tell them I have a daughter.”

The author told her mother about the interaction, and apparently she had no idea, either. 

“My mom had no idea that my daughter had been lying that I was her sister,” she wrote. “Each time that I said hello to them, they thought I was her sister and I had no idea.”

She then proceeded to try talking with her daughter about the issue.

Asking for advice

“When we got home my daughter was upset and embarrassed that the truth was told. She went to her room and didn’t speak with us,” the mom continued. “My boyfriend dropped her off this morning and said that she was still mad and giving the silent treatment. [A]ny advice on how to address this properly?”

The most popular Reddit response had a simple answer: “I would sit 8yo down and ask her why she was lying.”

The commenter elaborated further, writing, “Wait for her to give an answer and if she doesn’t, ask more specific questions. Is she embarrassed? Did someone tell her to lie? Did someone ask if you were her sister and she just went along with it? Maybe 8yo sees other parents that are around her grandparents age and just wanted to fit in. Then explain why lying isn’t okay, that it hurts people. Maybe even do a family therapy session, they can help identify different family dynamics at play.”

While there are many reasons a child may lie — whether it’s to enhance self-esteem or avoid focus on themselves — there are some common approaches to dealing with the problem.

The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry recommends taking time with your child to have a serious discussion about lying and its effects. They suggest covering topics such as “the difference between make-believe and reality,” “the importance of honesty at home and in the community” and “alternatives to lying.”

Each case is different, but taking the time to talk to your child is an important first step.

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