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Attorney Jordan Van Matre

Why do some kids make up allegations against a step-parent?

On Behalf of | Mar 8, 2024 | Domestic Violence

You were stunned when you found out that your stepchild accused you of abuse (sexual or otherwise) – and even more stunned when the authorities pressed charges. 

When your life has been turned upside down by a lie, learning more about why children sometimes fabricate stories of abuse can help you better understand what is happening. That can ultimately help inform your defense strategy.

Attention, anger, coaching and manipulation

Each situation is unique, and there is no one-size-fits-all explanation for why false allegations happen. That being said, children will make up stories of abuse for the following reasons:

  • They want attention: They may simply feel that your relationship with their biological parent is a threat to them in some way – or they may feel neglected. They may believe that their accusations will convince their parent to leave you (and put their focus back on them, instead.)
  • They may be angry: Not every blended family pulls together. Your stepchild may resent your presence and even blame you (irrationally or not) for the fact that their biological parents are no longer together.
  • Someone may have coached them: Is your spouse’s relationship with the child’s other biological parent pretty rocky? You cannot rule out the idea that your stepchild may have been coached into making false allegations against you, especially if doing so would likely give the other parent an advantage in a custody battle.
  • They may be consciously manipulative: Children sometimes use false allegations as a way to control situations or achieve specific goals (like your removal from the family home). This behavior can stem from a need for power or to hide their own misbehavior. 

Allegations of abuse can be personally and professionally devastating – but do not try to talk yourself out of the situation. The wisest thing you can do in this situation is keep your suspicions to yourself until you can obtain legal guidance.