Kids react to Tiger Woods apology. How can parents talk about it?
Sociologists and other experts weigh in on how parents can address Tiger Woods's fall from grace with their children.
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She suggests asking open-ended questions like, "What did you hear?" or "What do you think about it?" which can reveal how much the child really understands and how the child is feeling emotionally. Also, making it a conversation rather than a lecture is a more effective way to communicate.Skip to next paragraph
“Helping your child understand the distinction between poor choices and bad people is also key,” she says. “And once you've helped your child make sense of these adult issues, it's important to explain to your kids that their actions don't make them any less of an athlete and they can still appreciate what they did in the sport. Using this incident as a teachable moment will lead children to a better understanding of what's acceptable and what's not. The more parents speak to their kids about these hot-button topics, the more likely they are to have effective communication with them."
Fannin, who has played golf with Woods several times, has studied Buddhism, and knows the Thai culture, says Woods’s biggest hurdle will be overcoming family shame.
“I watched his mother during his apology, and she was sitting with crossed arms, showing her disgust,” he says. “They hugged, but she was still ashamed ... and when you shame a family in Thailand, it’s a very big deal, indeed.”
Many felt that Woods was sincere and went very far in his apology. Others felt he was too scripted and did not go far enough.
Family therapist Carleton Kendrick says the biggest shock has come because of the differences between Woods’s carefully crafted persona and his real self.
“Woods has never, to my knowledge, publicly stated that he is [or] should be a role model for children 'the world over.' His PR and marketing team have carefully orchestrated an 'All-American,' family man, public persona for him designed to appeal to both men and women, families, children and parents," says Mr. Kendrick.
"We make others our role models. Parents tell their children, 'Be like Tiger. Work hard and practice long hours, and you too might become a champion like he is,'" Kendrick says. "Children also choose their role models apart from their parents' suggestions. They usually choose them because they want to have the lives they lead, do what they do, because they like or admire them or simply because they are famous."
Kendrick agrees with Dr. Bartell that parents would serve their children best by first asking them what they think and feel about what they've heard in the media about Woods. They should then address their children's questions and comments in age-appropriate language, homing in on what seems to be troubling their kids most about the story.
“Parents might do well to prepare themselves to answer difficult questions such as: ‘Dad, would you ever do what Tiger did with all those other women?’ or ‘Mom, would you divorce Dad if he did what Tiger Woods did with those other women?’ or 'When his little kids get older and hear or read about what their dad did, how do you think they will feel about their father?' ”