The Slippery Slope of Embellishment

Well. I added a couple of 20something written links to my site to remind myself of a non normal perspective on life. And a post the other day struck a chord that I would imagine a number of us would take pause over. I have attached the link and I think it is worthwhile for any parent who reads my stuff to take a minute to read it. It is a glimpse into the mind of a child whether it is a 20something or not. And the comments under his post are enlightening also.

The Rest is Still Unwritten: Embellished Truth

So. David wrote about hero worship and his father and encountering the truth of a father’s embellishment.

I commented on his post as “the slippery slope of embellishment.”

trust is like paperWhile not knowing the details of his situation I still pointed out a lot of good people, with good hearts and good intentions get trapped on the slippery slope. And I envision fathers, or parents in general, if they are not very very careful can step onto this slope early on in their children’s lives and if they are not careful to nip the embellishment in the bud at a key point that little nugget of ‘not exactly truth’ has become a seed that will grow in their child’s minds. And that seed gets nourished by the sheer desire to look up to their father as they grow up. That little embellishment takes on a life of its own in the child’s mind. Here is what I wrote in response to his post:

“Ah. Lie? Embellishment? Life is tricky. It gives us the appearance of solid ground yet we are surrounded by a variety of slippery slopes. Embellishments are one such slippery slope. The first step your father took may have been a harmless embellished facet of a larger truth given in a harmless reactive response. Or it could have been a conscious small lie. Either way it placed a foot on the slippery slope. Depending on that first embellishment things could have gained some momentum or it became a little easier to offer another. Either way you slide further down the slippery slope. Suffice it to say a lot of very good people get stuck on the slippery slope and cannot get back up. They are not bad people just simply people who cannot figure out how to stop the slide (they can slow it) nor can they get back on solid ground.
So. let’s say your father was simply a good man who got stuck on the slippery slope and you reached down and pulled him back up to solid ground (albeit a painful act for you … and him I may add). You have achieved two good things. You were good enough to save someone from the slippery slope. You allowed a good person a second chance on solid ground.
And, hopefully, you will have learned the dangers of the slippery slope and can avoid it in your own life.”

Anyway. I am not a parent.

The best I can do is with this embellishment thing is to think about it like a transition with anything. As a parent at some point you will be faced with looking to manage the transition from ‘looking up to’ to an ‘eye to eye’ respect relationship.

Listen. Regardless of whether you can look back and honestly say you didn’t embellish or lie at some point you need to prepare to become human in the eyes of someone who expected you to maybe more than human (at least on occasion). Because whether you like it or not that type of relationship (as ‘the parent’) does take on some superhuman characteristics. Children don’t realize that sometimes while they expect you to have all the answers you are making it up as you go. Sometimes that is what leadership is made up of. You know this but they don’t. So what you may be “winging” becomes stamped somewhere in their lives or memories as a ‘thoughtful action.’

Let’s face it. You are screwed if they have a great memory.

So. When you become a human to your child I would imagine while you are hoping for a variety of things a couple of ‘hopes’ stand out:

–              Strength of character.

You have embodied the character needed in them to see through your flaws as a parent and see you as a good person doing the best they could.

–              A recognition of perspective.

Being a grownup means choices. And recognizing choices. And not that someone didn’t make 100 percent good choices but that in the end they made enough good choices.

And while I am not a parent … I am a child to my mother and here is what I do know.

Time + Silence = Miscellaneous Memories

“A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”

Sir Winston Churchill

Time is a tricky thing with memories. I had a crappy communication relationship with my parents. During my teens I didn’t tell them shit. Once I left home at about 18 for college through maybe 38 or so I didn’t just tell them shit I just didn’t tell them anything. Oh. And I didn’t really get much from them either.

This isn’t a complaint it’s just a case study.

Now that I am near my mother and we actually talk it is amazing the different memories we have. What she chooses to remember and what I choose to remember are often like night and day.

Here is where I link it back to David’s post on embellishment. I am not sure my parents embellished things (I have never asked) but I am sure I did (mostly to cover my ass) but regardless really little things which were of no consequence to one of us has over the years taken on a monumental life of its own.

Nice reminder from David in his post on the repercussions of our actions – whether they are conscious actions or not.

Written by Bruce