How a Lie is Helping Me Save for Retirement

meet the latest contributor to my Roth IRA


On Monday, I received an email from my son’s school guidance counselor. Did I realize that he had a ton of homework over the weekend, none of which was completed? Well, no…..

Now I’ll be the first to admit that my memory only lasts about 24 hours. But I distinctly remember the conversation last Friday afternoon. It went like this:

Me: So, how much homework do you have this weekend?

Jayden: NONE!

Me: Not even in your Friday Folder? (The Friday Folder holds all the assignments he failed to finish during the week, for torture completion over the weekend.)

Jayden: Nope! I worked really hard in 6th period and got everything done. So now can I play video games all weekend? That is, when I’m not busy reminding you what an amazing mother you are?

Me: Of course you can, my darling child! And I’ll make a nutritious, home-cooked meal from scratch while giving the windows their once-a-week cleaning.

Okay, so those last few moments are a little fuzzy. But the point remains - my child is, yet again, a lying liar who lies.

The Back Story

For those of you who don’t know, Jayden has Asperger’s Syndrome. You can read a slightly less stabby version of what that means for him, but basically, middle school is a nightmare. Homework is a nightmare. If he manages to finish high school, I’m bringing my own cap to throw in the air because THAT is how excited I’ll be to escape what I thought I escaped at my own graduation.

At the end of last school year, I blamed myself for his crappy grades and lack of effort. This year, though, I’m realizing a few things about raising a teenager. And for the record, it SUCKS!

Asperger’s does not prevent him from manipulating to get his way, lying about things he doesn’t want to do, or using his diagnosis as an excuse. The brutal honesty he showed as a child isn’t gone; he’ll still bust out things like, “No thanks, I always eat before we come over here because your cooking makes me sick,” or “My burp just tasted like cheeseburger but I haven’t eaten a burger all week!” (Those gems never fail to make me wish I could disappear.) But underneath that lack of social understanding is a newfound epiphany - Lying can prevent me from getting in trouble if I learn to do it well!

What This Has to Do With Retirement

When I found out Jay lied to me about having homework last Friday, I nearly blew a gasket. He knows how much I despise lying - in fact, he was grounded from all electronic devices last Thursday for the exact same thing. After I responded to the guidance counselor’s email with something like, “Don’t worry, he’ll be grounded until he dies,” I began contemplating his punishment.

There’s a viral video on YouTube where a father shoots holes in his daughter’s laptop after she talked smack about her parents on Facebook. While I applaud his approach, I’m not quite financially secure enough to destroy a brand new Xbox. Yet merely grounding Jay, even for several months, didn’t seem like enough.

I posted on Facebook, offering the Xbox with its accessories and games for sale. Within minutes, I had an inbox full of people interested in buying it. Last night I sold it for $350 - money that is going straight to my Roth IRA. Why? Because if getting him to adulthood is going to give me gray hair, I’m going to let him contribute to my old lady hair dye fund every time he acts like an idiot.

Some people have openly disagreed with my methods - my mother, for one - but I’m sick of the role that video games have taken in my son’s life. Autistic kids tend to obsess over things, and video games have absolutely consumed Jay for the last few years. Now that he has no video game console, no cell phone, no allowance, and no access to his computer until his grades improve, guess what he spent the last two nights doing (other than his homework)? READING A BOOK. Score one for Mom.

Preparing for Future Contributions

Now that I’m angry and the precedent is set, I’m looking forward to Jayden’s future contributions to my retirement savings. I’d like to think this incident will cure him, but I know that liars often take time to reform. So I informed him of my other plans to help him conquer his filthy habit:

Next time: Everything but his mattress will be removed from his room and stored in the attic.

The next: His belongings will be auctioned off on eBay. All of them.

After that: I will smash his computer with a sledgehammer and I will never buy him another one.

If it continues: He will receive a brand new wardrobe consisting of nothing but pink shirts and capri pants.

From there: I’m not putting anything in writing. Jail is no good for me.

Of course, right now all Jayden cares about is earning enough money to buy another Xbox. So I told him he can earn one dollar for every A on an assignment and 50 cents for every B. Every grade below that will knock a dollar off his balance. He’s not allowed to supplement the fund with birthday money or money from any future job he may have. Every time he lies to me, the balance will be transferred to my IRA, on top of the consequences listed above. At this rate, he should have enough money for a new game console right about the time he’s graduating high school.

Either way it goes, both of our futures are looking brighter already. :)


How a Lie is Helping Me Save for Retirement100 Comments

  1. I applaud you for being a hard ass when it was needed, and for following through with a harsh punishment.  I see so many parents (I'm guilty of this as well) threaten to bestow a harsh punishment when it is appropriate and earned, only to back out.  This teaches our children nothing.

    If it wasn't before, it is crystal clear to him that you mean exactly what you say. 

    BTW, if you get to the point where he gets the pink shirts and capris, all shirts should be screen printed with the words "Mommy's Favorite Pumpkin."


    • When one of my cousins was younger, she was the biggest brat on the planet. I threatened to spank her one night when I was babysitting, and she said, "My mom says that all the time, but she never does it." That's when I realized that following through is more important than the punishment itself. That philosophy has served me well so far, though I admit I've been ready to pull my hair out this week.

  2. Andrea this article is fantastic! While my son does not have Asperger's he does have the ADHD thing and at the ripe old age of 8 years old his inner teenager is already starting to bust out. While Ethan doesn't lie about homework he does have this horrible lying habit…about dumb stuff. I love your idea about punishment, in fact you will be happy to know Ethan's psychologist suggested a similar punishment tactic. Score one for mom for sure and your retirement fund!

  3. OMG sister I feel your pain, raising teenagers is rough. My 16-year-old son and I got into it yesterday, he was just being so moody and disrespectful. Finally I told him I was leaving to get groceries and pick up my other son, who's 4, and if the entire house wasn't clean by the time I got back, he would be trading bedrooms with his little brother (meaning the little guy gets the cable hookup and the much-bigger room). He was like, "You wouldn't do that." I said, "Test me, please, because I promise I will." He didn't test me, he cleaned, but we're still not exactly on great terms.

    • People keep telling me it will just get worse from 13-17 or so, and I'm really not sure I can handle it without ending up in the loony bin! But I guess I'm being paid back for my own teenage years - people always described me with words like "stubborn" and "willful." If only teenagers could look beyond their own selfishness and see what heartache they cause their parents!

      • It's not all doom and gloom, from my experience. It gets worse, then better, then worse, and so on. For a week or so, we'll be best friends and he's sweet as pie. Then some girl issue comes up, or something at school, and he's demon spawn. You definitely have to develop a thick skin, but it seems like you've got it handled Mom (better than me, I confess I've done the threaten and no follow-through routine before)

  4. Good for you, although I would reconsider the sledgehammer thing and go with eBay for the computer as well.  No sense throwing away a couple good hair colorings.

    Yes, you realized how important it is to follow through with threats.  My kids know when I say something, that I mean business.  And it does get tougher as they get older, although my boys don't seem quite as annoying as the girls. 

    • The reasoning behind smashing the computer is that it's ridiculously obsolete. I was actually planning to buy him a new one for Christmas because it's so outdated and slow, though I have since decided that he doesn't deserve it unless something changes drastically between now and then!


    I think what you did is fine. I wouldn't worry about people that disagree — you know your son better than any of us, so you know how to handle his behaviour better than anyone else.

    Besides, saving for retirement is really important!

  6. What an excellent idea. I remember when I acted out (I'm a horrible liar and always have been so that was never an issue…I lied once and I had such a bad experience that I vowed to never lie again-and I can't even do the little lies of "sure those pants look great on you" or "I don't know what you got for Christmas/birthday") that my parents tailored my punishment to fit me.  I wasn't grounded to my room, I was grounded away from it. 

    • "I wasn't grounded to my room, I was grounded away from it." - That cracked me up!

      I remember being sent to my room one time, and I could see all the neighborhood kids heading to the field to play baseball. I climbed out my window and joined the game. I guess I thought my parents would never check on me in all the hours I was gone. From then on, I had to sit in whatever room my mom was in when I was grounded.

    • He actually took it pretty well. When I picked him up from school, he KNEW he was in trouble - he would barely even look at me. I didn't say a word the entire way home, which just built the tension up even more. Finally he wrote me a note (which was hilarious) saying he would accept whatever punishment I gave him.

      The guidance counselor did tell me he was pretty torn up about it when he got to school on Tuesday. So maybe he'll learn.

  7. You lady, are an inspiration.

    I definitely applaud you for following through. Too many parents, do a lot of talking and do a lot of threatening to sell stuff, but none actually do it.

    *clap clap clap*

    • One thing I learned early in his life is that kids figure out whether or not parents will follow through. I watched a lot of friends threaten and threaten and threaten without doing anything, and I watched their kids walk all over them. I am determined that my child will NOT grow up to be a brat.

  8. This is my life! Exchange XBOX for LEGOS and you got it. Sounds lame right? but a simple things like getting dressed, doing chores, or brushing your teeth are torture when there a lego's in his room. Only peice of mind i get is when i take them away. ALL of them. I have an eight year old going on 16. Im worried he may have HDHD, havent made the move to get him diagnosed. It scares me to think that all his teacher may be right. Im determined to prove we can do it with love, discipline, and hard work!!! Kudos to you and your follow through!!! 

    • If he does have ADHD, no amount of discipline or love will make it go away, unfortunately. There are some great medications out there that would slow him down enough to listen and do what he's supposed to. 

      Believe me, I know it's hard to put your child on medication or get them diagnosed with a "disorder." But life is a much better place when you do. Think of it this way - if he had a broken leg, you wouldn't discipline him until he started walking on it. You'd take him to the doctor. Same thing should be true for a possible mental/emotional issue - definitely have him tested so you can decide how to proceed from there. Good luck!

  9. I think this is fantastic. It is kind of motivation for you to do the whole follow through thing too. While I know it isn't the most delightful way to grow your IRA, at least it is serving a purpose than just punishment. Good luck to you with this. 

    I recently cut back on my son's video game time too. During the week he is only allowed 30 minutes. He was completely obsessed with Minecraft and his school work was suffering, even with him doing his homework. His grade are coming back up and he has also started reading and drawing more at home. 

    • After a week with no video games, I'm amazed at the lower stress level in the house. I still have to fight him to sit down and do his homework, but there aren't as many distractions. I think when I do bring the computer back, it's going to be on weekends only. Then we'll see how he does and consider raising it from there.

  10. I see nothing wrong with what you did.  I also like how you managed to find a way to also reward him for good behavior (that he can still screw up if he lies) to give him that extra incentive to work hard on the schoolwork.  Each of our kids is a little different and they all react differently to different punishments/rewards, so if you find something that works for Jay, more power to you. 

    I so am not looking forward to the teenage years…

    • Enjoy the younger years - raising a teenager sucks! And the funny part is, he's actually one of the better behaved teenagers I've been around. After working with teens in therapy for the last few years, though, I have to say - I think it's a miracle anytime a kid makes it to his/her 18th birthday without being strangled.

  11. I think this is fantastic!  I am a first grade teacher, and even with the young ones I can tell who gets away with certain things, like lying.  There are some parents who don't even respond when you tell them that their child lied or did something they shouldn't have.  I am happy that you are a parent taking responsibility and doing something about your son's behavior.  Bravo!

    • When I worked with kids, I used to tell parents that if they didn't have control of their children by age 3, they'd never get it back. And I used to get SO MAD when some of them would stare at me blankly, then continue letting the child run the house. I'd hate to see how awful Jayden would act if I didn't take such a strong stance against his misbehavior.

  12. I love it! I wish I could do the same but 1. the Xbox belongs to hubby and 2. well my son is only 4.5 so this might be too harsh for him to understand and too young to get just yet but your point of the follow thru is what really stuck with me. My son  has PDD and I always feel bad punishing him cause he's different. Now I realize I better get over that real quick!

    • It's hard when they're little. When Jay was that size, I focused on logical consequences. If he hit me with a toy, that toy went in the trash. If he got in the pantry and ate a whole bag of Doritos, I stopped buying Doritos. Trying to fit the punishment to the crime is hard sometimes, but it worked well. I have actually had very few discipline issues with him until lately. But it's definitely important to do it now - PDD may prevent kids from understanding things instinctively, but it doesn't mean they can't learn! Good luck. :)

  13. As a person with no children, I usually try and keep my nose out of anyone's parenting. But I can't help but cheer when I read this! I was a full time nanny for around a year and there was so little I could do in terms of discipline. So from a non-parent, GO YOU!

    This will be good for him. Don't let him back you down. ^_^

    • He has actually accepted his consequences better than I expected. I think a part of him is relieved that he can't obsess over it anymore - it's like he knew he was taking it too far, but he couldn't stop perseverating. Now he has no choice.

  14. I think you did the right thing! You have to teach him that there will be severe consequences to disobedience and dishonestly. If he knows how much you hate it, yet continues to do it, then you have to take steps like these.

    My brother does the same thing with my niece, and it definitely works for her!

  15. You can't see me right now, but I am giving my computer a standing ovation on your behalf. I HATE video games and I saw my brothers waste HOURS in front of video games instead of being outside and playing. I vowed to my husband I would never let a video game console inside of our house, and even though he jokes about getting a Playstation, I would seriously go crazy and throw it out. I don't have kids yet, but I want to hold off as long as possible before I ever introduce video games. And dude, seriously, I am sooo happy that you stuck to your guns. The U,S. needs more parents like you who actually stand up to their kids and follow through with harsh punishments rather than the ones who beg their kids to be their friend.

    • Thanks, friend! :)  

      I have told him before, I have my own friends. I don't want to be his friend, and he shouldn't want to be mine. That's not the relationship we have. When he's grown and doesn't need me anymore, then maybe we can be friends!

  16. Good for you.  I actually think that the dad in the laptop video should have sold her laptop rather than destroy it.  And then spent the money on himself.

    It is hard to parent correctly, esp. Aspies.  They are intelligent and (in my kid's case) able to figure out the path of least resistance, even if it involves lying.  At least this will show him VERY clearly cut, you lie — you lose stuff.

    • Lying is a new "skill" for Jayden. When he was younger he was totally incapable of lying, and for the most part he still is. He usually tells me everything, even the things I REALLY don't want to know. So this was a shocker for me. But I have a feeling he'll think twice before he does it again! It was so much easier when he was younger….

  17. At first I was hesitant over the selling of the Xbox thing - seemed like it could do more harm than good if he held it against you and refused to do ANY work. But then I saw your plan from here on - the dollar per A plan, not your 5-step go to jail plan - and I really like that. I think that's a great plan for putting the matter in his own hands and even helping him make financial decisions.

    • I hope he learns something from this. I had a meeting at school on Friday and his teachers indicated he was at least staying awake and paying attention. He also did his homework by himself (for the most part) instead of whining and asking for help. So we'll see how it goes.

  18. I love this!  You meant BUSINESS!  I think often times, parents forget that they are the parent, and not the friend.  My daughter is only 2 so, I don't have the issue with video games, not doing homework, etc.  But trust me, if it does get to that, things will surely be sold, given away, taken away, etc.  

    • I've been surprised by the number of people who think I'm some kind of monster. Even the guidance counselor was surprised that I sold the Xbox instead of just taking it away for awhile. I just told her, "You have NO IDEA how much I hate lying. But Jay is learning how much."

  19. Wow! You are one tough mother, I have to give you this. But when everything fails, something needs to be done, right? After all it still stays in the family! Just in a different currency. :)

  20. "Because if getting him to adulthood is going to give me gray hair, I’m going to let him contribute to my old lady hair dye fund every time he acts like an idiot."

    Funniest thing I've read all year.  I think every kid lies to their parents about doing homework.  I know I lied to my parents about it through high school, and I'm pretty sure they never saw a single report card. Reading a book is a very big win, though!

  21. Posts like this make me happy I have cats…

    I completely applaud your efforts and follow through though.  If only more parents did this!

  22. Selling the xbox and investing in retirement, nice :) I see nothing wrong with your methods, there is a small possibility the wardrobe change doesn't work though. For one, that may become a new fashion, or secondly, he might just not care about what other people think of his clothes and just wear them because they may save him money(you know, the PF attitude).
    I have a friend who when he was about 4 or so told his dad he hated school, his dad took away the TV for 5+ years I think it was and this affected him and his two brothers. Safe to say he learned his lesson there. Another time he did want to share his ps2(when those were the latest and greatest) so his dad slammed it in the ground and it broke. Once again, lesson learnt. I see nothing wrong with any of these methods and I actually intend to use some on my future children.

    I believe and hope that he has learnt his lesson. If not, he will be stuffing your retirement fund for a long time to come and not enjoying it.

    • I think we have a generation of kids right now who appreciate nothing because they've always had everything. So mine is learning the difference between rights and privileges. I think it's a great lesson for him. :)

  23. Beautiful.  Turning a negative into a positive for the family, showing your son that actions have consequences, and windfalls lead to savings.

    That's some great stuff.

  24. I love it!!! What a great way to deal with the issue!!! I don't have kids but trust me if I did I would have done the exact same thing!!!

  25. The part about wearing capris and pink shirts just cracked me up! 

    Seriously, though, I think what you did was just fine. As pretty much every one else has said, following through with punishments is so important. I hope everything gets easier for you guys! 

  26. Oh my god, you're my HERO!!!  I have a child with similar issues and it's amazing what he tries to get away with.  You're not alone!  Unfortunately, my son fails to see the forest from the trees and therefore would be sleeping in a completely empty room if I took something away from him every time he lied.  I'm running out of ideas.

    • An empty room can do wonders for a kid! When I directed a group home, we used to take everything but the mattress if a kid used the furniture as a weapon (throwing a chair, etc.). We would explain clearly what the child had to do to earn back the furniture. And nearly every time, the kid never did it again once s/he earned the furniture back.

      I highly recommend the book "The Explosive Child." Best explanation of discipline and consequences I've ever seen.

  27. When we grew up we were beaten left and right by our parents. In India it was not this much strict. What happened ultimately? We both brothers are well established and we respect parents and still obey their words.

    • I'm a firm believer in a swat on the behind (or sometimes a little more than a swat) if it's the only way to get a child's attention. Unfortunately at 13 Jayden is a little old for spankings, but I never really had to do it much even when he was younger. Once he realized I WOULD do it, all it took was a look. 

  28. I think you are doing a great thing!!!  Alot of people say I am hard on my kids also but guess what..they don't have to live with them and I do.   I to DESPISE lies.  My youngest lost her laptop, phone, and all her makeup last time she did it and had to earn them all back.  Keep on doing what you are doing and dont let your mom buy him a new one!


  29. Watch the grades skyrocket now…:)

    Sometimes being a parent isn't easy, and it can be tough to be tough - so to speak. But, honesty and academics come before video games, no doubt about it.  If the latter can serve as a motivator, that can be a good way to build positive habits.

    • I don't look for a major improvement in grades - he despises school and struggles in a lot of areas. But I do know he's capable of at least completing his work and turning it in, even if the grades aren't perfect. We'll see how it goes. :)

  30. I really, really love this post! No, I don't have childen, whatever — I still love parenting stories and I soak it all up like a sponge so that I can "borrow" people's ideas in the future.

    What was your son's reaction to this?

  31. Wow! This was a pleasure to read, and I'm sure Jayden will have learned his lesson. Plus, kudos to him for reading a book!

  32. LOVE it. To make you feel better, yesterday one of my students told his mom that I made him wait for two hours to fill out his daily behavior log and that's why he wasn't home until 6:00. Obviously, false. He didn't even give me his behavior log yesterday. She saw right through it. 

    I wish all parents took school and lying as seriously as you do. I know he has struggles with homework and school, but you're absolutely right that lying about it is unacceptable. In fact, I'm going to post this to FB and I'm sure all my teacher friends will worship you.

    • I don't ever want to be one of those parents who make excuses for their child. There are so many things that he DOES legitimately need help with, so I'll be darned if he's going to make his teachers think he's manipulative or "faking it" when it's real. It's really hard to balance between fighting for what he needs and not allowing him to use his disability as an excuse.

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  34. Andrea, BRAVO!! I'm so glad that I now have company in the "Meanest Moms Club," it was getting lonely :) Seriously, we have always been disciplinarians with our children, much to their chagrin, and their statements that their friends' parents didn't act like us. We've had to take away privileges and even had them write 1000 sentences for lying, but it's our job as parents to prepare them for life and to teach them that actions have consequences. You were absolutely right in everything you did, and so creative about it too! Keep it up sister, you rock! 

    • When he was really little, I developed an arbitrary point system. If he said I was mean, I got a point. If he said I was the MEANEST MOM EVER, I got 5 points. "I hate you!" was 10 points. And when I got to 30, I got to buy myself something. It helped take the focus off worrying that he would grow up to truly hate me. :)

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  37. I like your discipline method here. My dad resulted to doing drastic things to teach me lessons (normally he was very lax and understanding, until we hit the "point of no return"). And let me tell you, they were the most effective and long lasting lessons I ever learned.

    • That's exactly what I told Jayden. I'm so laid back I'm practically horizontal, but there are certain lines he WILL NOT CROSS. Once he does, it's on! So he can choose whether he gets Nice Mom or Evil Sadistic Mom with his behavior. :)

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  40. Asperger's is no picnic. You are never "off duty". I applaud that you took a hard stand. Most parents would give their kids umpteen chances!

  41. Ok, I love it!  I have a child with Aspberger's - he is only 9 and I don't think he lies - yet.  My 13 year old on the other hand!  wow, he still lies, we still catch him in it, and he is in trouble all the time for it. I have recently been at a loss as to how to make an impact on him.  I think I now have my answer.  Like you, I think video games are way to consuming of his time, energy, efforts, etc.  Taking them away hasn't really helped.  It might be time to sell them.  I am sure this made a huge impact on your son, way to go!

    • It's been a different world around our house this week. I highly recommend getting rid of video games - it's so peaceful! And he's going outside and doing stuff he hasn't done in forever, so I think it's a win all the way around.

  42. I never did lie about homework, but I was a nerd who loved school. I came home and did my homework on my own with no prompting or questions. I would voluntarily give up doing fun stuff if I knew I needed to get my work done. But unfortunately I have a child who isn't the least bit motivated by grades, so I'm learning to be creative. I keep telling myself, just 4 1/2 more years of this, then I'm going on a cruise.

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  44. That is AWESOME!! I especially like your system: $1 for an A, 50 cents for a B, and deductions for C's, D's and F's, until he EARNS his next video game. Great idea!

    Too many kids are just handed things and never learn how to earn them. 

  45. Oh yeah, and I never got grounded too my room … there was too much fun stuff to play with in my room! I had to sit on the linoleum floor of the laundry room, in one spot. I remember sitting in that corner of the room — unable to stand or move around — for 10 or 11 hours at a stretch. I think that was for a bad math grade. I remember thinking that getting grounded to my room would be a vacation!

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  47. Really glad that you stood up for your beliefs and for strong parenting. A strong parent gives AND takes away. It also shows that when you say something, you mean it. I had a buddy who always said he would do the same thing, but instead of selling he'd be smashing things. 

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  49. That is an awesome story/punishment - Just one question.  If it would have taken you longer to sell the xbox (Perhaps a week - think back to having to list it in the newspaper classifieds, wait for it to appear, etc) would you still have sold it?

    • Oh, definitely. I needed them out of the house - they were taking over our lives. Even before he got in trouble, I could barely get Jayden to visit his grandparents or leave the house because he was so scared he'd miss something on his video games. It gets really old!

  50. After that: I will smash his computer with a sledgehammer and I will never buy him another one.
    I'd go the donation route, personally. If you need the satisfaction of some violence, remove the hard drive and put a drill through it in a few spots for security sake. Then donate it (sans hard drive). 

    As someone with Aspergers I think you are going exactly the right route here.

    • Thanks for your vote of confidence! I probably wouldn't donate the computer because it's such an outdated piece of crap. It's super slow and not really worth the effort. But I'm hoping it never gets to that point.

  51. OMG! That is hilarious! I was a nanny for two boys, one with autism and one with aspergers, and can relate to the obsessions. It's amazing that they can take such a long time to grasp social politeness yet can figure out lying for personal gain so easily :)

    Human nature, I guess!

    I hope you son got tons of As and Bs after this! :)

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