Lance, Lies, and Lessons

How You Participate is Important in Sports and in Life

Reactions to Lance Armstrong’s expected admission that he used illegal chemicals to enhance his racing performance has ranged from indignant outrage to hesitant acknowledgment of Armstrong’s charitable endeavors. Beyond the scandal and the legal implications for Armstrong, there may be lessons for all of us.

Adults, including parents, nannies, and sports writers, have a duty to examine the veracity of role models and sports idols. The obvious, if trite, lesson for kids is that you should not lie. More profound is that you should tell the truth. Just that simple. Be honest.

Honesty does not mean being tactless or cruel. It means not to cheat or to lie for selfish reasons. To a parent or to a lawyer or philosopher, the concept of “truth” might be a complex mix of perceptions and expectations. To one of your charges, “truth” should be uncomplicated, desirable and, at times, rewarded. Critics love to castigate “liars” because it makes the critics feel righteous and superior. Perhaps a tad of compassion and an understanding of human frailties would temper the harsh words.

Our goal is to keep children safe and secure, both in body and in mind. Nannies may find it necessary to tell charges incomplete facts, half-truths, or outright lies in order to prevent unnecessary stress and anxiety. The information we give our charges must always be age-appropriate, so we may tell different “facts” to a five- year-old and a 15-year-old.

Though nannies are probably the best judges of what is best left unsaid to the child, the wishes of the parents must always be followed.

Nannies need to establish trust and security between themselves and their charges. That rapport is established when the nanny practices and preaches honesty.

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