By Lisa Cherry
Surely, it has never been easier to live a secret life.
In fact, living multiple lives is just kind of expected. Who we are at church...who we are at home...who we are at school or work....who we are online....these are each separate profiles with separate personalities, behaviors and standards. Right?
A few weeks ago a close friend of mind was devastated to learn of her child's secret other life. When the hidden online accounts were reviewed, she found answers to questions she had not even dared to let herself ask. Immorality. Blasphemous darkness. Lewdness and rebellion. "How could my child have fooled me for so long?" she cried.
I understood the sting of her bitter tears. For I will forever remember the pain of discovering our daughter's secret other world.
I hated to even know what she had partaken of and a part of me wanted to run from the truth! But all secrets eventually come to an end and denial is never a helpful friend.
I asked myself a hundred times the question so many have asked me. "Lisa, did you not see the warning signs that Kalyn was hiding something? How could you not have known about her other life?"
That question used to haunt me. Now, it saddens me. But I have determined to learn from my errors.
Yes, I did miss some signs. I did ignore some things that I would later regret ignoring!
So, for all of us, I want to share some of the top ways I experienced myself or have learned from others about detecting when your child is leading two or more lives.
Maybe you can share some others with your fellow parents. Maybe you yourself have been enslaved by a double life and remember some of your own behaviors! Let's work together to box out the forces of darkness trying to deceive our kids.
1. Unexplained absences: Missing hours that are not reasonably explained are not a good sign. If the excuse is lame, do not receive it at face value. Investigate.
2. Wardrobe changes: Often our kids wear their new lives like a banner on their bodies. A style change often means more than just taste. They are making a statement. What or who is the statement? I discovered Kalyn's new desire to carry her backpack was so she could change her clothes after she left our house and before she arrived with her new "friends."
3. Silence: A person living a double life is often mentally and emotionally exhausted. It is easier to withdraw from social contact, throw up thick walls, and quit talking.
4. Changes in media tastes: Pressing past or sneaking around the family regulations on media rules such as movies, Internet, TV, or music is a significant warning sign. The kingdom of this world has a familiar sound and language. When your child's heart is attracted to darkness, it will show up in his tastes for entertainment.
5. Lies: Lying becomes a habit. Kalyn says she got so used to living her double life of deception, she found herself habitually lying about little insignificant things and then just laughing to herself. Never ignore a pattern of lying.
6. New friends: this seems obvious. Birds of a feather flock together. Face it. If the new friends have certain issues or problems you are seeing, your child's friends' parents may be noting the same thing....in your child!
7. Arguments that are out of character: "But mom, a little cussing is really not a big deal...." coming from a child who you have never heard use profanity. Perhaps cussing is normal in her other life!! See Luke 6:45.
8. Eye rolling: Every teenager is tempted to dishonor their parents at times. But when you suddenly become the "enemy" in daily life, watch out. A guilty conscience will always look for a misplaced location to dump blame.
9. Suspicious online behaviors: Reluctance to reveal passwords to parents, quickly moving screens or signing off when you approach them, odd purchase orders showing up on your Amazon account. If your family's online behaviors are not in the light, chances are they are in the darkness! (Have you signed up for an internet monitoring service such as Covenant Eyes yet?)
10. Underperforming or over-performing: My friend's child's schoolwork fell way down. Kalyn's schoolwork went way up! A change will often mean something.
11. Obvious changes in sexual countenance: When sexual thoughts are being aroused somehow in a child's life, a teen will often exude sexual overtones both in dress, demeanor, speech, and behavior. Trust your gut instinct if you note a problem. And investigate. Wow, do I wish I would have followed this advice!
12. Physical problems: A double life is a stressed life. So is it any wonder that sicknesses follow the increased stress and pressure. Kalyn lost weight and suddenly needed naps. My friend's child had constant stomach complaints.
13. Loss of interest in spiritual things: It is not normal to dump God. But it is common to move away from Him when filled with guilt, fear, shame, or doubt. The enemy is wooing our kids with promises of "freedom and fun" in the secret life. We, of course, know his plan to steal, kill, and destroy.
Have other ideas for detecting a double life? Post them in our comments!