My message #1835
04/23/07 11:44 am
In defense of Mr. Baldwin I would like to say as a father of two young girls that were taken from my life six years ago - I can feel his roar of pain as parental alienation is child abuse. My lost girls are sad –so am I . A good father forms a loving bond with their children and when it is broken for whatever reason the hurt and resentment hits in big-time. Give me cancer any day - thank you - as having to witness your own flesh and blood being manipulated, poisoned, or brainwashed by the custodial parent is bloody heartbreaking for the paternal family.
© Retna Ltd.
In Defense of Alec Baldwin
By Martha Brockenbrough
Special to MSN
It's hard to think of a man in Hollywood with a scarier reputation than Alec Baldwin.
Baldwin's divorce from Kim Basinger has been a protracted slugfest. A co-star reportedly quit working on a play with him because he slammed his fist through the wall when the air-conditioning wasn't working to his satisfaction. And just last week, word got out that he'd left his 11-year-old daughter a voicemail message calling her "a rude, thoughtless little pig."
After this, does he have any fans left?
Despite his faults, he does: me.
And it's not just because he's perfect as the menacing but soft-hearted Jack Donaghy in TV's funniest sitcom, "30 Rock."
It's because, as a parent, I understand his demons.
Unlike so many celebrities in Hollywood, whose struggle with excesses of drugs, alcohol and wild spending is completely foreign to me, Alec Baldwin is a man with a broken heart. He's lost his child, the person in the world he loves the most.
Perhaps it's his own fault. He seems impossible to live with. But just because he's a hard guy to love doesn't mean he's incapable of love. In fact, I'd say the man's suffering in part because he loves so much and is devastated that it's not returned.
Here's part of his voicemail to his daughter, as reported by the Associated Press: "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 is a thoughtless pain in the ass who doesn't care about what you do as far as I'm concerned. You have humiliated me for the last time with this phone."
Video: Baldwin calls daughter a "thoughtless little pig"
He then said he would fly from New York to Los Angeles "for the day just to straighten you out on this issue."
When I first read the voicemail transcript, I shuddered. What kind of parent calls his child a pig? I later listened to the tape itself and was appalled at the uncorked rage it contains.
The man clearly needs help.
Even so, I had a moment of recognition — one that I don't like, but one I'd be a total hypocrite to deny. Just last week, I told my beloved 6-year-old to stop eating like a pig. At the time, she was using her dress as a napkin, something I've asked her not to do literally dozens of times. I even told her that, as a 6-year-old, she was too big to be making such a mess at mealtime.
I didn't have quite the rage that Baldwin expressed, but if someone passed around a transcript from our dinner table, I wouldn't sound all that much better. And I know I hurt my sweet child's feelings.
The truth is that very few parents can go a lifetime without saying something regrettable to their children. To the ones who do, I offer my congratulations and admiration.
For the rest of us, though, who are sometimes worn down by life's stresses, disappointments and apparent exercises in futility, we don't always say the right things to our kids. Sometimes, we even say the exact wrong things — words we may regret for the rest of our days.
Baldwin revealed a lot about his emotional fragility when he said, "You have humiliated me for the last time with this phone."
I lost my cool when my child didn't use a napkin, but at least I get to see her every day. Baldwin doesn't, and this apparently wasn't the first scheduled call she missed. How devastating for a parent who does not have custody to not be able to count even on phone calls.
I know if I were in his situation, I would be crushed and frustrated, and very likely to lash out. I suspect I'd be furious with my ex, and I'd be mortally wounded by the apparent indifference of my child. I'd also want to go to wherever she was to explain how much she was hurting me.
I like to think I'd choose words that expressed my pain and not come across as threatening. But how do we know how we'd react if we felt we'd lost the one person we loved most in the world? How many of us, in our darkest moments, can express such humbling need with perfect clarity?
He definitely screwed up here. There's no way what he said was OK, even if his daughter at least has a sad piece of proof that her father wants to be part of her life.
I can understand his emotion more than I understand what could have possessed Kim Basinger's people from leaking a tape that would publicize their child's pain and make it part of the permanent tabloid record.
In this darkness, though, I think there's a potential bright moment, for Baldwin and other imperfect parents.
When we screw up, we have an opportunity to teach our children that humans make mistakes. We can ask for forgiveness. We can do better in the future and hope that, when our children become parents themselves, they will have learned that we don't have to be perfect to be lovable and that forgiveness is a gift that heals.
Meanwhile, I will be thinking of that shattered family, understanding their pain and wishing them well.
Related news: Baldwin "sorry" for berating daughter
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Martha Brockenbrough writes the Cinemama column for the MSN Movies Parents' Movie Guide. She is the author of "It Could Happen to You: Diary of a Pregnancy and Beyond." She's also founder of SPOGG, the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar. She writes a fun-with-kids column for Cranium.com, as well as an educational humor column for Encarta. Check out her Web site.