Warring Parents Sacrifice Kids
Wednesday - May 02, 2007
“You are a rude, thoughtless little pig ...”
When actor Alec Baldwin left those words on an answering machine for his 11-year-old daughter, he succeeded in doing a couple of things. He scared a little girl, and he showed the world who the real rude and thoughtless pigs are.
Baldwin and his ex-wife, actress Kim Basinger, are rich and famous people who hide a core of ugliness beneath their beautiful faces. How else to explain the damage they are doing to the only innocent victim in their sordid Hollywood saga - their daughter?
But what’s sad about their story to me is that we have seen this so often in our everyday lives. Almost all of us know couples who have separated and divorced, and whose bitterness has poisoned everyone around them. People who hate each other will go to any lengths to score a hit, even using their children as weapons.
“I am going to get on a plane and I’m going to come out there for the day and I’m going to straighten your ass out when I see you ...”
Those words and the angry, threatening tone in which they were delivered alarmed a court commissioner enough to temporarily bar Baldwin from having contact with his child.
But no matter whose side you are on initially, it usually becomes quite clear that both parents are doing very bad things. It’s widely believed that Basinger leaked the audiotape, which, if true, makes her just as pathetic as Baldwin. Even if Baldwin is as out of control as she has maintained for years, what good does it do to splash it out in public? She proves her point, but at the expense of a child who has to endure not just the verbal assaults of her father, but also the display of her family’s pain in the national media.
If you’re a parent involved in a similar dispute, the natural inclination is to take sides and relate it to your own battle - see, he’s like my husband, an abuser who wants to hurt us; or, see, she’s a witch like my wife who’s alienating me from my kids.
This kind of “I’m right, you’re wrong” mentality affects us at all levels. We see it at the very top, where the Democrats in Congress and the Bush administration are duking it out over the war in Iraq. They are behaving like our national estranged mom and dad, struggling for control, each side wanting to straighten the other out. And both sides refusing to budge. Withdraw the troops or stay the course. Is there nothing in between?
Who gets hurt? You’re smart enough to know the answer.
What has to happen - at all levels - is the realization that the “gotcha!” mentality is going to get us all in the end. While the fingers are pointing blame at each other the “kids” continue to suffer. No one wins.
The only way to break through is to engage. Talk. Mediate. Reject extremism and arrogance. This goes for divorcing parents, warring celebrities and the people we elect to lead our country.
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