My heart is breaking. For who you may ask? For twelve-year-old Ireland Baldwin, daughter of Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger. I'm sure many of you have heard about the angry voice mail message that was left on her cell phone from her father. If you are in the dark, click here to catch up to speed.
I have had the misfortune over the years to see first hand the toll that bitter divorces can have on children. It is painful to see their anguish and listen to their stories. Stories of arguments between parents, guilt over having a good time or wanting to see the non-custodial parent, etc.
I've had the opportunity to watch the media reports on what I will call "The Baldwin Debacle" including responses by other celebrities. I was pleasantly surprised to see that people were not so quick to jump on the 'Alec Baldwin is a horrible parent' band wagon.
Some of you might be surprised hearing that from me, but let me explain. First, I want to make it clear that I under no circumstances agree or condone the comments made by Alec Baldwin. They were hurtful, inappropriate and emotionally abusive. Having said that and having heard the tapes MANY times (enough already Access Hollywood and Inside Edition -- can you give updates WITHOUT playing the tape over and over?!), I also hear a father who is hurting. A father who is likely feeling cut out of his child's life and feeling powerless to change things. Valerie Bertinelli summed it up well saying "You have to love your kids more than you hate your ex." Well said, Val.
It is easy to point the finger at Mr. Baldwin, but is Ireland's situation entirely his doing? We don't know what actions Ms. Basinger has taken to fuel this bitter divorce. I don't want to draw conclusions about what happened behind the scenes in this particular situation as that wouldn't be fair to either party. Instead, let me discuss some of the things to avoid when going through or coming out of a divorce:
- Don't let your disdain for your ex influence your interactions with your child. This means no discussing your ex in negative ways in front of your child. If you need to vent, visit with friends on your own. If talking with a friend or family member, be sure your child is out of earshot. Kids are very concerned by the state of their parents relationship and will frequently eavesdrop.
- Re-evaluate your motives. When you shut your ex down when he or she wants some extra time or to take your child on a great outing, are you doing in the best interest of your child or are you doing it because you want to get back at your ex.
- Listen to your child. If your child comes back from a visit and vents to you, listen but don't use this as an opportunity to align yourself against the other parent. Rather, empathize and ask your child how they plan to address their concerns with the other parent.
- Look to the future. Consider the future implications of trying make your ex the enemy to your child. There will come a day when your child is much older and will have more life experience. They will then be able to see your actions for what they really are, desperate attempts to secure your child's love but in the process putting your own needs before theirs. Actions driven by fear. Fear that your child might love the other parent more. Continue on this course and you risk the chance of losing them later on. There is a strong possibility that they will resent your actions if it cost them time and a meaningful relationship with the other parent.
- Take the high road. Take the high road in the relationship with your ex. They just might follow your lead. If they see you being civil in your interactions with each other, they might do likewise. Remember, you get what you give. If you and your ex can get to the point where you can at least discuss matters related to your child in a civil manner, you will be modeling that we can still talk in a respectful manner with people even if we don't like them.
Just a few closing thoughts on the Baldwin Debacle. I have never met a perfect parent and frankly, don't feel that perfection in parenting is possible. We all make mistakes along the way and do things that we later regret. What would people think of if our indiscretions were made public? I must say that the person who leaked the recording to the public should be ashamed of themselves. This action was just as insensitive and abusive as the comments made by Mr. Baldwin. I can't even imagine what poor Ireland is going through right now. It's bad enough being caught in the middle of this mess let alone having to go through it in the public eye.
Okay, it's time for me to get off my soapbox. I'm curious to know your thoughts on this situation. Who do you think is more responsible for this mess, Alec or Kim? Let's hear your thoughts!