Anthony Weiner is no longer front-page news now that he has resigned in disgrace from public office. So what's a parent to make of Weinergate, that perfect storm mix of politics, power, sexting and lying? The media frenzy over the ex-Congressman's behavior provides a clear teachable moment for our teens. Given the dramatic effects of the inappropriate messages and photos he sent and the devastating results of his untruthful words, we can talk to our kids about the serious consequences of making bad decisions.
As parents, we know that young children lie, apparently about once every two hours. Sometimes they do it to get what they want or gain attention but usually it's to avoid getting in trouble and being punished. Often the lines between make-believe and reality become blurred.
But when do kids' little 'white lies' become teenagers' big destructive whoppers? And how do these teens behave as adults out in the world? Weiner provides an unambiguous example of the slippery slope of lying and the difficulty of extricating yourself.
According to the Josephson Institute of Ethics, teens are five times more likely than those over 50 to believe it is necessary to lie and cheat in order to succeed. More than one in five admit to lying, cheating or stealing in the past year, with 80% saying they have lied to their parents about something significant. As they move out into the world at large, these same young adults are two to three times more likely to misrepresent themselves in a job interview, lie to a significant other, keep money mistakenly given to them.
Anthony Weiner seems to have been stuck in this adolescent phase of development. If you want your teens to move beyond this and recognize the dangers of lying, here are four tips to get you started:
Sir Walter Scott didn't know about Weinergate two hundred years ago when he cautioned, "Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive." But we can use his experience to initiate talks with our children about lying and give them the tools they need to avoid the fate Weiner brought on himself.
© 2011, Her Mentor Center
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Rosemary Lichtman, Ph.D. and Phyllis Goldberg, Ph.D. are family relationship experts who have developed a 4-step model for change. If you are coping with acting-out teenagers, aging parents, boomerang kids or difficult daughters-in-law, we have the solutions that make family rifts disappear. Visit our website, http:/
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