The National Football League is suspending New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady for the first four games of the season for his role in Deflategate – in which his team’s footballs were purposely underinflated for the AFC Championship game.
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The league says Brady had at least some knowledge of the underinflated footballs, which is against the rules. Brady has said he did not know about the footballs being underinflated.
If you’re a parent, situations like these provide a good opportunity to talk with your children about doing the right thing, says psychiatrist Joseph Austerman, DO, Section Head of Cleveland Clinic’s Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
These real-life examples, whether it involves a sports hero, relative or a friend, can vividly illustrate to your children how ethical dilemmas play out, he says.
“All of this can ultimately lead into a discussion with your children about how when they’re under stress, that is the time to pay attention to making the right choices,” Dr. Austerman says.
The goal is to help your children make the right decisions, especially when they’re under pressure or feeling stressed. Decision-making is among the most important skills your children need to develop to become emotionally healthy adults. The decisions your children make will, in many ways, shape the path that their lives will take.
Parents should talk to their kids about resisting pressure from a peer, an adult or even someone they admire, Dr. Austerman says. Tell them to make decisions for their own reasons, and not someone else’s, he says.
“You can use this example to say, ‘When things get tough, that’s when you step back and say, this is difficult, but this is the right choice,’ ” Dr. Austerman says.
Explain to your children the consequences of ethical shortcuts and how one bad decision can damage a reputation and possibly ruin a career or a life, Dr. Austerman says. Emphasize the value and satisfaction of winning through hard work.
“You can say to your children, ‘Do things the right way because if you don’t and you try to take shortcuts, there are consequences,’ ” Dr. Austerman says.
“If you do this in your own life, you can have these negative consequences, whether it is playing sports and not wanting to put in the time or cheating on tests,” he says.
Making good choices
Dr. Austerman says to remind your children that everyone has choices and why high personal standards are important. Tell them that even if it seems everyone else is not following the rules, you don’t have to cheat to win.
“Tell them that if you follow the rules, you can still get everything you want and – more important – you will be a better person,” he says.
Dr. Austerman says talks about good decision-making should take place regularly with your children.