Parenting is… raising our kids without exaggeration or embellishment

Posted on March 8, 2020

Parenting is… raising our kids without exaggeration or embellishment

Embellishment: a detail, especially one that is not true, added to a statement or story to make it more interesting or entertaining.

Exaggeration: a statement that represents something as better or worse than it really is.

We all want to protect our kids. We want to keep them safe and healthy and happy. Often to balance the weight of life, we try to add more lightheartedness to our experiences and to make life more enjoyable and exciting for our kids. We want to be their anchor, but we also want to see them laugh. And we want them to see us as fun and funny. With the best of intentions, we cross boundaries in entertaining them. I’ve done this myself. I’ve embellished and exaggerated experiences, things, people, and situations. But finally I realized I had to stop.

That was because, when my kids were tweens, I heard them tell their cousins about a celebrity experience that was embellished and exaggerated by about 75 percent. It was borderline lying. How did I know? I was with them at that Laker game.

When the kids did something unconsciously or acted out of character, I always asked them, “Where could you have seen that? Where could you have learned that?” When I heard the celebrity story, I had to question myself, “Where could they have seen that? Where could they have learned that?” The answer, my authentic inner voice told me, was they had learned it from me. I took responsibility. Then I took it a step further and asked where I could have learned or seen that kind of behavior. I couldn’t really come up with an answer, so I let it go. I decided it was enough that I recognized the need to embellish in myself, pointed it out to my children, apologized to them, and asked them to be mindful of this possible habit and to correct it.

Over the years, both my son and daughter have shared times when they realized they were embellishing and exaggerating with each other or friends, almost always for fun and entertainment. I had to wonder, though, what that habit could have developed into and how it might have negatively impacted the kids and their relationships had I not taken responsibility as a young parent.

“It is easier to build strong children than it is to repair broken men,” said Frederick Douglass. Being strong and calling oneself out is certainly not an easy job, because the work rests in us. But if we repair and heal our own broken parts as we recognize them, raising our kids to be strong will be the easy part. Sometimes it’s hard to do this work alone. Lean in to your partner, friend, sister, or other family member. On the road to bettering ourselves, everyone we come across is a soulmate.

In this social media driven world that we are raising our kids in, the spotlight is always on how good things are or seem to be, and our habit of embellishing and exaggerating is definitely adding pressure on our kids. So let’s make a promise to keep it real at home. I mean really, really real. We need it. Our kids need it.

An additional timely thought: With the news of the Coronavirus on everyone’s mind, we need to be real enough to not exaggerate the news, especially in front of the kids. Let’s use our discretion and discernment and filter events as we never have before— mindfully, consciously, with full focus, attention, and awareness.