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November 3, 2019

New York Times

My Teen Lied to Me. Was I Right to Ground Him?

Q. My 16-year-old son sneaked out of the house the other night. Around 1 in the morning I noticed that his door was open and the covers were pulled all the way up — he had stuffed his bed with clothes. I tried to trace his phone and call but it was completely off. Of course I waited and worried until I got a text from him at around 6 a.m. that he was out for an early run. I told him to come home right away.

He walked in the door panting (as if he had been running). I told him that I knew he had been out all night, and he admitted he had gone to a party. He didn’t seem very sorry for the charade or lies and felt like he was justified since he thought “you wouldn’t have let me go.”

He is grounded with no privileges and I have given him a final warning that if anything like this happens again, he will not be able to get his driver’s license on time, since we have trust issues between us now. I never expected him to lie to me like this. Did I take the right approach?

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The advice provided by Dr. Damour here will not and does not constitute - or serve as a substitute for - professional psychological treatment, therapy, or other types of professional advice or intervention. If you have concerns about your child’s well-being, consult a physician or mental health professional.

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