For the great majority of young children, the headlines about Tiger Woods will pass right over their heads. But for the child whose parents or older siblings are hyper tuned into sports, who overhears the news or casual conversation, for the child who is focused on sports and sports news or who is a budding golfer, he just may hear that another hero has fallen. What the heck does a parent say?
We have been through this kind of revelation too many times before. With sports stars and politicians…President Clinton, John Edwards, and Koby Bryant, to name just a few. There is never a right answer. How does a parent explain poor judgment, poor choices, unethical or immoral behavior?
Just like the others before, this is a tricky one. It makes even the most confident parent sweat. And it brings up many different issues and questions. Rather than to try to offer answers to the touchy questions which could spring forth, I offer the Tiger Woods story as another opportunity to talk with your children about real life. It is an opportunity to have multiple conversations on a variety of topics, many starting points listed below. At the very least, this latest, disappointing news gives you an opening to underscore your personal beliefs and values. Those are the ones you pray your child takes with him into adulthood.
- Do you always believe what you read in the paper or in print?
- Do you believe all of what you hear on the news?
- Can we really know the whole story? (about Tiger or anyone else)
- What is gossip?
- What happens to the victims of gossip?
- What is a hero?
- Who are your heroes and why?
- How do people get to be heroes?
- Do we expect more from heroes than from regular folk?
- Do heroes have an obligation to behave in certain ways?
- Does having a lot of money make people happy?
- Does having a lot of money give someone permission to do things that are immoral or illegal?
- Is there such thing as a perfect person?
- What is the difference between a mistake and a bad choice?
- How do people learn from these?
- What is forgiveness?
- Should people who make bad choices be forgiven?
- Should people who make mistakes be forgiven?
- Do “famous people” ever have a “private life?”
- What does marriage mean? (Here is your chance to talk about the sacredness and the obligation of marriage vows)
- What does trust mean?
If you child asks what Tiger did, depending upon the child’s age, the starting point is “It is reported that Tiger was having a close relationship with a woman who was not his wife.” Remember to follow your child’s lead and do not offer more than he has asked. Less is likely enough. Not answering or avoiding the question will give your child a different, stronger message. That message will be about your willingness to communicate with him. Children whose parents answer their questions will come back with more questions.
I don’t envy any parent having to discuss infidelity. But I believe that it is only a small part of the discussion. There is so much more to be learned from this and from all the other fallen hero news stories. Take advantage…but only if your child brings it up first.