Dear Grandparenting: I try to pay close attention to what the candidates for president do and say. One thing really jumps out at me. Lying is in. Being sorry about it is out. Donald lies, Hillary lies and Cruz lies. Most of them play games with the truth. Do they ever apologize or admit they lied? Very, very seldom. They just go on their merry way, making stuff up about themselves and other people.
That is what my grandchildren do, too. They are not sorry about not being sorry either. They sometimes lie and then blame someone else or try to change the subject. But my grandchildren are still young. There is still time for them to change. I take it on myself to try and make that happen. I insist they come clean with me. When I was growing up, it was a big deal to be caught in a lie. Not anymore. Are we a nation of liars? Scooby Murphy, Marshall, Michigan
Dear Scooby: The late U.S. Sen. Daniel Moynihan said we are all entitled to our own opinions, but not our own facts. While there is no hard evidence, we do detect a drift in society toward mixing fact with opinion, if not outright invention of fact. The conduct of presidential candidates is all the evidence one needs. When America’s would be leaders lie and then deny or fudge it — and their supporters don’t desert them in droves — it’s safe to say we have a big problem.
Lying is part of the human condition. Most of us have trouble with the whole truth and nothing but the truth. We lie to gain advantage or protect ourselves, and tell white lies to grease the wheels of social interactions. According to a 2002 University of Massachusetts study, 60 percent of adults cannot have a 10-minute conversation without lying at least once (the average was three lies).
What does this have to with grandchildren? Lying and not apologizing are contagious. Overhearing adults disparage the truthfulness of America’s leaders is sure to put ideas in their little heads — if it’s good enough for Donald or Hillary, why not me? Small children model what they observe, not that they really need much encouragement. A 2013 study in Developmental Psychology indicates that children become increasingly capable liars from 3 1/2 onward.
Family is the best defense against grandchildren inclined to only offer up their version of the truth. In the family circle, they learn that it’s safe to tell the whole truth. Grandparents who build a relationship of closeness and trust with grandchildren give them a bridge over the low road of deceit.
GRAND REMARK OF THE WEEK
Natalie Chang from Los Angeles, California, says she knows where her grandchildren get all their energy.
“They suck it right out of me and rev their little engines right up again.”
Dee and Tom, married more than 50 years, have eight grandchildren. Together with Key, they welcome questions, suggestions and Grand Remarks of the Week. Send to P.O. Box 27454, Towson, MD, 21285. Call 410-963-4426.