Friday, April 20, 2007

The Parenting Trap Part II


Recently, a tape of a voicemail actor Alec Baldwin left for his daughter Ireland was released to the public. The voicemail goes as follows:

From The Evil Beet

“You have insulted me for the last time,” he says. “You don’t have the brains or the decency as a human being — I don’t give a damn that you’re 12 years old or 11 years old or that you’re a child or that your mother [Kim Basinger] is thoughtless pain in the ass … You have humiliated me for the last time … You’ve made me feel like shit, and you’ve made me feel like a fool … and this crap you pull on me with this goddamn phone situation … I’m gonna straighten your ass out. I’m gonna really make sure you get it. So you better be ready to meet with me … I’m gonna let you know just how I feel about what a rude little pig you are. You are a rude, thoughtless little pig.”

Some facts about me:
1. I have physical custody of my two daughters.
2. They see their mother every other weekend and alternating holidays.

Now, I don't do celebrity gossip at the disco, and I don't plan on ever doing it. But I heard this message on a morning radio show and it disgusted me. I would like to address this from the standpoint of a parent.

I know how difficult it can be to keep a civil relationship with the other parent. There are parts of you that feel outrage, betrayal, contempt, even outright hatred for the other person.

But you know what? Be a goddamned grown up.

Your kids look up to you, whether you know it or not or want to admit it or not. Using that kind of language, in that tone, is inexcusable. You're teaching them that it's OK to be abusive, vile, and unstable. There are times when I want to lash out at (my daughters') mom. Hell, 99% of the time, I want to put a brick through her face for what she's put them through. But I don't. You wanna know why? Because that would set a bad example for my kids. As corny and PBS special as that sounds, it's true. And any parent that doesn't believe that their actions influence their kids should get a visit from Social Services. Not to put too fine a point on it, you always have to keep that screen in place between your brain and your mouth to keep the hurtful, mean, damaging stuff from slipping out.

There are a lot of tough decisions you have to make as a parent: punishment, admonishing, new clothes versus new toys, television versus communication, etc. However, what is not a tough decision is "Do I want to fuck up my kids?". The answer to that should be a resounding "No". If not, you can turn in your parent status and send your kids to live with a pack of hyenas, because they're less likely to make such a bad decision. If not, then at least your kids life will be mercifully short. It's preferable to continuing the kind of existence predicated on abuse.

13 comments:

litelysalted said...

Man, if you ask me that kid got the easy way out. My parents? Are two of the most fucked up individuals you ever wanna meet. Father: Abusive, tyrannical, asshole. Mother: Bipolar, adulterous alcoholic.

But did they ever split up? Fuck no, that would have been easy. Instead they subjected us kids to a warzone until the day we left home. Ya ain't lived 'til you've had your bank account drained of all your after-school job money by your drunk mom, or had your father constantly demand who you wanted to live with when they got a divorce and as an added bonus tell you that your mom was fucking some guy she met at AA in your bed.

Nope... That would have been easy. I can only imagine the sweet bliss of kids with divorced parents. On the plus side? I was able to channel all the rage and bitterness into... Well, what you have here. Comedy with the occasional panic attack. No sweat.

litelysalted said...

PS: Likewise, I'm also too cheap to pay for therapy. ;)

Manny said...

Sounds like it was never boring at the LitelySalted compound.

My parents divorced when I was young, and I wasn't really exposed to the whole ugly divorce/custody issue. They kinda just went their seperate ways.

It sounds like you turned out alright. Although the pics I found of you and that donkey in Tiajuana have me a bit worried.

slouchmonkey said...

You saw those pictures, too? Damn!

Once again, the disco provides me with more insight on being a 'future' good parent.

Jayne said...

Well done, Manny. I agree completely. It isn't easy, but you have to do it.

Chez's daughter is being raised by a selfish woman who wants nothing from us but our $1K/month so that she doesn't have to work a real job. The kid- gorgeous, intelligent, and sarcastic, just like her dad- will be 18 and all of her money paid for her mom's condo and car. Nice, right? And it's especially hard when i hear the kid tell us that her mother and her family constantly fill her head with awful stories and lies about her father, and meanwhile they won't lift a finger to let us visit with the girl. That's extra.

But we are very careful to never speak badly about her mom or mom's family or the way she was raised or about anything having to do with money or custody around the girl. We enjoy our time with her, we try to surround her with positive ideas about family and life (believe it or not), and we do see her when we can. We've even shelled out that extra money on top of the ridiculous child support to fly her up to New York.

She'll learn the truth one day on her own- I would never think of holding what she's learned against her, or shouting it into a voicemail.


(on a side note, i actually have spoken with Alec Baldwin on the phone myself. seriously. he was very charming to me. I'm glad i'm not related to him.)

Manny said...

Slouch - I'm just shooting from the hip when it comes to parenting. I try not to make the same mistakes my parents did, but sometimes make all new ones. Thanks for the support.

Jayne - WTF?! I had no idea Chez had a daughter. What you've described to me fits my situation to a "T". We try so hard to be the "mature" adults in our familial equation, but it's sooo hard. Sometimes we are just so tired and weary of the conflict that we want to give up. But we know we can't. We've worked too hard and providing a healthy and supportive environment for them.

Their mom works some BS party planning job that her friend got for her and doesn't even pony up $20.00 for her own kids. I can only hope that like you say, they will realize what a piece of crap their mom was and how hard it was for us to do what we've done. A side benefit if Chez's experiment is that he has something that his daughter can read when she is ready to see what a brilliant man her father is.

Now I REALLY can't wait to meet you guys in May. And now Mrs. Disco and yourself have another thing in common.....

litelysalted said...

Yeah, I turned out aiight. Coulda gone either way, really...

And, fuck. I thought I destroyed those pictures. Damn CVS.

Jayne said...

I am very much looking forward to that myself. And to meeting Mrs. Disco.

My malcontent doesn't talk about his daughter much- it's a painful subject for him, as he's been kept from seeing her much of the past 14 years. She does read his writing, though, and she seems to be impressed. (especially since mom has been trying to be a writer... maybe that'll be the revenge... i hope.)

slouchmonkey said...

Side note on Alec Baldwin. Actors have their emotions readily available and can access them rather easily. Not always a good thing. I wonder how much of what he said in the voice mail was for his ex-wife?

mrmook said...

Manny

Thanks for sticking in for adult parents everywhere.

Yes...it's impossible to defend Mr. Baldwin's deplorable words and detestable bullying of HIS OWN 11 yr. old child and yet..............

I'm willing to give him a break. No doubt that he deserves a solid fiver to the jaw to bring this point home to him but, in the end, I don't and can't know his real family situation and there is simply no relationship more complex than that one.
I've read his "statement" about the call and found it level headed and almost reasonable.

"they attempt to paint a picture of you on your worst day"

For his daughters sake I sincerely hope that this was Mr. Baldwin's worst day and, more so, that he looks into the mirror and learns from it.

TK said...

Wow, I didn't know Chez had a daughter either. Anyway. Well done again, Manny.

I confess, I am relatively spoiled at the parent thing (as weird as that is to say given my past confession about my dad). However crazy things got, my parents never, not even once, got into an argument in front of us. Or even within earshot of us. It's like they never fought. They never badmouthed each other, they were rarely even slightly critical. So this stuff seems like a no-brainer to me. But I know that not everyone is as lucky.

I think your kids, Manny, are very lucky that one of their parents hsa it in them to be the rational, kind and cool-headed role model they need.

It's gonna be hard on them when I beat you unconscious, though.

Manny said...

Jayne- Sounds like Chez's ex is on some extra strength beeyawtch protein supplement. I'm sure that Chez's daughter can see through her BS to the truth of the situation, though. Mrs. Disco and I say to each other (partially to convince ourselves of the theory, partially for our own sanity) that when the girls are older, they'll see their mother for what she was. There is some small comfort in that, and the fact that they can look back on their time with us and know that it was all done for them.

I just feel bad that (Chez's ex)keeps Chez from spending time with such an obviously special young lady.


Mr Mook- I can't give him a break on this one. There are just lines that, in my opinion, you DON'T cross when it comes to raising kids. Leaving a hateful, demeaning, angry message is one of them. He knew that this was a voicemail that his daughter had easy access to, so he knew, hell he intended for her to hear it. Divorce in itself is a plays ping pong with kids emotions all by itself. Adding animosity, and this kind of fuel to the fire is reprehensible. Sorry, but I get a bit fired up about this subject.

TK- Your dad definitley sounds like he was a complex individual and I'm sure your mother is a wonderful person. You can definitely count yourself lucky to not have been exposed to the verbal and emotional warfare of divorce. I've seen what it can do to kids.

Now TK, if you would kindly do me a favor and French kiss the nearest lightsocket, we'll be done here.

mrmook said...

Manny

No need to be sorry. I'm sure that your passion is one of the things that make you a good parent.
and agreeing to disagree never hurt nobody.