Monday, June 22, 2009

Munchhausen-syndrome-by-proxy, Alaskan variant

Finally.

The uproar over CBS' David Letterman's joke has begun to fade away, although not without the usual stupid overreaction by a couple of corporate sponsors who were spooked by fundamentalists without any sense of humor or proportion.

And yet nobody has looked at the underlying cause of this brouhaha.

Ask yourself this: If Palin had been a better parent to her children, would David Letterman have had any material for his wicked joke?

Yeah. Sarah Palin is the real butt of the joke here, and she deserves it. The only problem with Letterman's joke is that he overshot, yielding collateral damage. Had he focused his aim at the appropriate target, there wouldn't have been any hubbub.

Palin's the kind of parent who screams too loudly at hockey games, thinking that her kid's loss is a reflection on her. The kind of parent who's more worried about appearances than about substance. The kind of parent who can easily excise a child from her life if they crease the facade around the family and the parent in question.

How could Palin send her first-born son out of state after some discipline problems at home? I couldn't do it; there's no way you could ask me to send my high schooler away when they are most vulnerable and at risk for more trouble.

How could Palin send away her second-born to live with other family members after getting pregnant? I can't think of a single healthy and well-adjusted parent who could do this to a teen girl, at a time when they are most confused and scared about what lies ahead.

How could Palin risk jumping on a plane to travel from Texas to Alaska, bypassing immediate health care after her water broke during her last pregnancy? Can you find me a health care professional who'd advocate such risky behavior.

And how could Palin use her children -- and in the case of her grandchild's teen father, somebody else's child -- as props for political gain?

I'm not a psychologist or a psychiatrist, but I think we're looking at somebody who's so very narcissistic that even children are little more to them but tools for attracting attention. Hence the anger over Letterman's joke without any introspection whatsoever, anger pumped up and milked for the purposes of keeping the attention on herself in some sort of weird variation of Munchausen-syndrome-by-proxy.

As a parent with children in high school and grade school, I'm all too familiar with the challenges contemporary families face. It takes a real investment of time and effort every day to make sure that the kids are learning up to their individual potential, that they are safe from all sorts of new risks (like bullies on Facebook and in the classroom, or prepared for driver's ed), and that they know their own limits and those of our household while feeling loved and secure and comfortable living their values.

Doing this effectively means using a single, powerful word.

And it means using this powerful word not just on the kids, but on yourself.

It means saying NO.

No to too many evenings out too late away from the kids, no to events which interfere with naptime/bedtime/homework/school, no to excessive stimulation in the form of television and other electronic disruptions, no to too many toys whether for kids or adults, no to excessive spending on wants instead of needs, no to career moves that satisfy only an adult's sense of achievement and not the family's need for security and togetherness...the list goes on and on.

And no to running for office, if comics' wisecracks, politicos' personal attacks and paparazzi digging through the family's underwear drawer cannot be shuffled off with quiet grace.

Seriously, have you seen Sarah Palin say no to herself or her spouse or her children?

She didn't say no to excessive shopping with McCain campaign money; she didn't say no to dragging her children all over the place when they needed more stability, as infants and pregnant teenagers do; she didn't say no to sending her son and daughter away when they most needed more attention and a firm hand.

The problem wasn't that David Letterman shot too widely with his edgy joke; it's that Sarah Palin gave him too broad a target to begin with, being unable to discipline herself let alone her family, being unable to use her family as anything but a device to make it all about poor Sarah.

Comments:
Exactly. You should run for vice-president, except you'd be too wise and would have to say "no". At least for the time being. But someday. . .
 
Very sorry I didn't catch your comment sooner, Leah; apparently I didn't get an email letting me know you'd been here.

And yes, you see right through me. I haven't run for office even though I've been encouraged to do so, because my family obligations come first. With my spouse being on the road frequently and having a job at a certain level which draws scrutiny too readily, I've chosen to say no for now. My kids deserve and need the attention right now, especially during the teen years when they can be easily derailed by sports, social demands, all the other challenges hormones and other things make on them.

Although I wouldn't turn down being an adviser to someone else's campaign. Heh.
 
You should run. You definitely do have to AK in 2012!
 
Sweet of you to think so, rich, but not going to happen for at least 6 years. ;-)
 
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