Hi Rene:

Help! I’m in a real pickle. I have 12-year-old twin sons, Cam and Kyle. Both of them love sports and are budding athletes. My husband and I have encouraged that part of them and are very proud of their accomplishments. Now the problem.

They both tried out for our town’s baseball league. Cam made it, Kyle didn’t but it was Kyle who so desperately wanted it. I couldn’t stand the thought of hurting Kyle so I told them they both made it but that we had too much upcoming travel to participate.

Now I’m having an attack of conscience. Rene, all I was trying to do was protect my sons but I think I may have messed up in the process. What do I do now?

Sign me,

Mistaken Mom

Dear MM:

This problem has a really easy solution that can be boiled down to these three words: Tell.The.Truth.  In fact, I’ll add a fourth…. Now. Look, I know the place from which this comes; you are their mother and you want nothing more than to protect them. But I believe you actually do more harm than good by lying in this case and here’s why.

*YOU TEACH LYING IS OKAY: Don’t we tell our kids just the opposite? Yes. Yes we do and this is a glaring example of “do as I say” etc. You did the politically expedient thing and in the short term, solved the problem. But you may have inadvertently created problems down the line. Have you thought about what happens if Kyle finds out? Don’t think it can’t happen because it absolutely can. What will you say when he comes to you and says, “Mom, did you lie about this?” Think about it.

*YOU MISS A “TEACHABLE MOMENT”: I’ve always said one of my jobs as a parent is not to protect my kids from each and every disappoint; it is to teach them how to handle it when it comes their way and it will. This is life and you’d better arm your kids for adversity because that’s a card we all have to play at some point. They are not babies and at 12-years-old, it’s high time they know how to handle it when things don’t go their way. If you don’t help them through smaller (relatively speaking) things like this, what’s your plan for when things get really big and bad? Yes, Kyle will be hurt but you will help him through that. Together you will devise a strategy to get better and hopefully he will use this moment as rocket fuel to get him (and his skills) to the next level.

*BY PROTECTING KYLE, YOU’RE PUNISHING CAM: This is perhaps most disconcerting part of all. You have put Kyle’s feelings and your desire to protect him ahead of Cam’s who actually did earn a spot on the team and deserves a chance to show what he can do. I know life isn’t fair but the cruelest cut of all shouldn’t come from parents and that’s what’s happening in this case, even though unintentional. And by the way, what if Cam is really talented? What if he has a chance to go on and be a big ball player or at the very least, earn a scholarship to college? Don’t you owe it to him to do what you can to help him get there? In a word, yes.

Don’t believe me? Take it from my daughter and her friends.

 

* WHAT TO DO NOW:  Talk to Cam and Kyle (either together or separately) and spill the beans; if I were you, I’d do it before too much more time passes. If you wait too long, it will, at least to you, seem easier to just let it go. This doesn’t feel like one that you can just let go. Fall on your sword, mom, be truthful and tell them what you were trying to do. Tell them in trying to protect them, you, like so many other parents, made a mistake. Promise you’ll do better from here on out, then work with Kyle to get a spot on the squad next year.

Good luck mom!

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