Well, it looks like I have at least three things in common with Jay and Johanna Webber: (a) We live in the 11th District; (b) We believe family is important; (c) We have experienced life in big families -- I'm the third of seven kids myself. So of course I noticed the statements the Webbers recently shared on Facebook – which took something one person said about Jay’s voting record, and ended up talking a whole lot about a completely different person.

And I couldn't help thinking about my parents. Because when I was a kid, this kind of thing would have violated their Cardinal Rule Of How To Present a Grievance: Limit it to yourself and the person who actually said/did it. It also breaks a secondary, still important rule: Don’t blow smoke, because the parental units simply have no time for that. 

Instead, fuzzy third-party complaints were subject to the swift Common Sense Parental Cross-Examination:

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  1. Why are you talking about this other person, instead of whoever supposedly said these things?
  2. How much of this really, truly happened?
  3. Be crystal clear in your mind about (2). It’s important to be truthful, no matter what.
  4. Are you really trying to right a wrong, or just badmouth someone? Because if it’s Option B, we can always come up with some constructive chores to keep you out of trouble.

These rules continue to make sense to me in all sorts of situations, even now. So I sure wish I could still tell my parents how smart they were. Current events, including political campaigns, would probably make a lot more sense as well, if they were still around to sort things out.

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Liz Lynch, a freelance writer and genealogist, grew up in Somerset County and lives in Montclair.