Thursday, April 19, 2007

Love at Home

Alec Baldwin and Kim Bassinger were married at one time, had a daughter, got divorced and put their child through the wringer.

Mr. Baldwin, frustrated at being stood up by his 11 year old daughter "yet again", decided the best way to handle his disappointment and anger would be to let her "have it" verbally on her message machine and threaten to discipline her for her bad, insulting, and disrespectful behaviours upon his next visitation with her. He repeatedly called his daughter names and also his daughter's mother names that needed to be bleeped out when it was aired on the television this morning.

Ms. Bassinger, frustrated and angry with Mr. Baldwin, decided the best way to handle her emotions would be to hand the taped message over to her publicist and lawyers, and they thought it a grand idea to send copies to every major news station in the country.

When I heard the tape this morning I was ticked, saddened, and many other emotions, however I was not shocked. I have heard worse in the grocery store from a mother, a father, and between siblings. I do not think it, meaning this berating verbal abuse, is limited to Mr. Baldwin nor to couples who have divorced. I have seen "happy" families who verbally abuse each other on a daily basis. They have become so desensitised to name calling, loud tones, destructive words and accusations that this kind of verbal exchange is not a one time behaviour, but the norm when things get heated.

I know a certain man who has much admiration and status among his working peers and his church membership. Those same friends and coworkers would be appalled if they knew this same man told his 6 year old son, upon the court deciding to grant custody to mom, that he didn't know if he could love this 6 year old little boy as much as his new wife's children because he would be living with them every day. He went on to say that if the 6 year old wanted him to receive his father's love, the little boy would need to leave mommy and come live with he and his new wife.

This man and woman have been to court back and forth for over 8 years. The two children involved have been to every court date, heard all the accusations, been asked to make decisions between their parents, and give their opinions as to who is more right, who is more wrong, who is a liar, who is telling the truth.

Both parents hold recommends to attend the temple. Both parents have friends and support from their leaders. Both parents still, after 8 years cannot get through one day without talking to the other parent and making a heated exchange that both children hear.

I have heard both of these parents and others in and out of religion use as bad of language and worse than Mr. Baldwin's today on the phone. I hear it almost every time I go out into public. I have seen frustrated, over tired parents talk to each other and their children as if no one can hear and as if the targets of the words are the world's worst enemy.

Just this week we saw tragedy in Virginia in which a young man, confused and mentally ill took out his anger and frustration on 50 innocent people. I can't help but wonder how many times someone had talked to this young man as a child in the same tones, with that same disgust and anger as Mr. Baldwin used towards his 11 year old daughter. I do not excuse the shooter in Virginia, I do wonder however, who talked to him as if his worth was infinite and his potential divine? Do we sometimes, in our anger and frustration, create mental illness in children?

I do not like contention. I grew up in a home where contention was the norm. "Fighting with your spouse is 'normal' and if you don't get it out, you will be unhealthy." This was the advice I was given as a young bride. I agree that couples need to discuss their disagreements, I do not agree that it needs to be in elevated tones or with angry words. I do not buy into the perceived notion that an argument needs to be a screaming match filled with cursing and punctuated berating.

Thor and I decided very early in our marriage that if our children were to talk to each other with respect they would need an example. What is considered typical sibling verbal exchanges were not allowed in our home. Our kids were not allowed to talk back to us or each other; nor were they allowed to berate, "dis", or name call. Arguments were not allowed to escalate to the point of high pitched emotional outbursts. We tried to teach them how to disagree and still maintain control of their thoughts and emotions. There were times when things did not go as planned, but we had a pretty high success rate.

In General Conference "this talk"by Elder Holland spoke directly to us about the power of our words and how we should control them and use them to edify rather than demean. Then later in the conference Elder Oaks gave us this counsel "on Divorce", and how it is destroying our children in more ways than we think. I have seen this in my own life. I know we have the power to change our habits and make positive changes for our own children.

I am saddened that this little girl has had to live out her childhood being the ping pong ball that her two grown adult parents use to bat back and forth in an effort to "win" the divorce game they are in. Look around your own neighborhoods and you will see plenty of Alec Baldwins. The only difference is, he got caught publicly and will be disciplined to make a point. No one will punish the parents in the mall, down at the grocery store, or sitting behind you in the pew at church.

add to sk*rt


chronicler said...

I knew you were a thinker. And you think about the most important things. I agree 100% with your words here and most places. If only the Coke commercial could work. I'd like to give the world a hug. We could all use a few more of them and a few more kind words.

s'mee said...

thanks. i'm still pretty grrrrr about all this and what i see everyday. i'll write more later.

ilovejazz said...

Hey, it's Conni. I love your blog. And I miss talking to you. The kids told me to come check it out, and they were right -- great writing.

s'mee said...

Conni!!!! Way! I am SO glad to hear from you! I'm not sure about the writing, I just get a knot in my hair and let off steam or ramble about places I go with "Thor". haha! Anywho do you have a blog??? That would be terrific (crossing fingers).

How the heck are you? Wassup with the cow doc? and...yikes I miss you! We went through Overton on the way to Conference a few weeks ago, man has it changed! We talked and talked all about you guys and tried to point out all the parents' homes, but couldn't quite remember it all...geeze can you tell I am missin' you? Waaah!

Seriously... OH MY HECK! I wish you were here, man could we talk it up over an In-N-Out! Up in the sidebar is my "s'mee mail" write me and we can talk or get numbers! I would love to hear what has been happening in your neck of the woods.

ilovejazz said...

Couldn't see your email for some reason. Maybe I'm not looking in the right place. I'll get my #1 son to give it to me, and then we'll talk.

Kim Carney said...

I have seen this happen over and over ... with many friends and friends of friends. always sad and frustrating to hear about. My best friend is still living her hell after the husband left her for someone else and only addresses her with words that begin with F and B. And I think, he needs to GROW UP. ;0

s'mee said..., well it goes like this: I am technologically dull and when I made the switch to "new" blogger (ICK!) it dropped my "s'mee mail" link, which I did not notice until you pointed that out. (no wonder I haven't gto the mail I used too!) ahemm, So my lovely sis is putting up for me later today or tamale. Thanks.

Kim, This makes me so sad. My dear mother walzed many men in and out of our little lives. Each new "dad" was prince charming in the beginning and Satan at the end. And yup, it was indeed hell for all involved. Parents do need to grow up and decide that the people them bring into these relationships deserve peace and safety.

Good luck to your friend. sigh.