Sanford and His Sons

There are few universal truths in this world: Murphy’s Law, Occam’s Razor, Surliness of CVS employees, and the cruelty of children are among them.  I have been thinking about South Carolina Governor, Mark Sanford, and his indelicately handled affair in light of that last truth.

Click me for a timeline of indiscretion and malfeasance for those living under rocks for the past week.

The governor is father to four school age sons each of whom will most likely be subjected to additional cruelties at the hands and mouths of their classmates and peers.  Their father’s careless indiscretions are to be blamed for each taunt.

I was nine years old when I learned of both my parent’s infidelities.  My largely carefree existence was shattered – most fourth graders lack the ability to differentiate the shared aspects of parenthood versus the private acts of the parent.  In breaking faith with each other (and allowing me to learn of their breaches,) my mother and father broke faith with me too.  For the first time in my life, when either told me the sky was blue, I had to go outside to confirm it.  I became withdrawn, sullen, and refused to discuss the matter – not that either parent tried.  Friendships faded as I couldn’t embarrass my parents, my family with such disclosures. I picked fights to vent aggression.  It was a dark period in my life and one which still colors my parental relationships long after forgiveness came.

Now imagine trying to manage all of that on a public stage.  Imagine that all of your classmates, teammates, coaches, teachers, and playmates know your father is a philandering poseur.

Elected officials opt into a certain amount of public scrutiny, an easy choice to make for oneself.  However, they also make that choice for their children and in so doing ought to be committed to a higher standard or at least not getting caught in contradiction.  I will not comment about the damage Gov. Sanford has done to his marriage or to his wife – they are both adults and thus I consider the matter private.  Nor will I comment on the political/hypocritical elements as this has rarely been a political space*.

Governor, your meandering public apologies have been all over the news, but I hope you understand the damage you have done to your children.  I hope you understand how long of a shadow you’ve cast over their lives.  I hope you understand that your carelessness (in getting caught) has exposed your boys to trump leveling taunts from which there is no recovery.  Governor, I hope you know that all of their conversations can be ended with the question “Do you know where your daddy is?”

Where you gonna be, Governor?

P.S. Keith Olberman, you know I am generally a fan; but would you please stop appearing to enjoy this so much.

* Yes, I understand that there was a certain level of commentary inherent in the phrasing.

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8 Responses to Sanford and His Sons

  1. The Gamecock says:

    I am a South Carolinian who, politics aside, holds her First Family close to her heart…and it’s breaking for them. I regret that you’re able to “wear the shoes” of the Sanford boys, but I appreciate the heartfelt perspective that shines through this piece. Well done.

    Thank you for your kind words. And yes, politics aside, my heart breaks for them too – even the Governor who is clearly dealing with some personal demons.

  2. Sara says:

    Living in a very glass house, I try to withhold judgment when it comes to peoples private lives. Children are the exception. The day you have a child is the day you lose the luxury of putting yourself first. Take that Ayn Rand.

    And the day you make that child’s existence a public spectacle is the day that you lose the luxury of getting caught.

  3. BigSis says:

    Refugee, you are such an amazingly gifted writer. Thank you for sharing this post. It reminds me how important it is to be a good role model to all little ones. Everyone benefits from that.

    Thank you so much, that was very kind of you to write. I am constantly impressed by anyone who accepts a lifetime of that responsibility (and lives up to it.)

  4. Titania says:

    I had not thought of it from this perspective, maybe because I have never gone through this (as a child), I just thought about it from the wife’s perspective. Thanks for opening my eyes to another, probably the most important aspect of this whole mess.

    Among the other really twisted elements of this is that until two weeks ago being the governor’s kid was probably good for some added deference. I am sure that there are a couple of kids in their circle who are going to be all too happy to reverse that dynamic.

  5. Fearless says:

    The fact that I’ve re-written this comment about 10 times speaks volumes about the mixed feelings I have about parental relationships and the lasting effect they have on our lives. But I think my relationship with my mother improved exponentially after I finally realized that she was just a flawed human being, doing her best, and sometimes failing miserably, like the rest of us.

    I agree that adults have an easier time making the distinction, but the difficulties children have aren’t just about the distinction.

  6. redhead says:

    The fact that your reaction primarily is toward how hurt the children will be speaks volumes about you.

    -Quite funny title, by the way.

  7. Elle Dubya says:

    his actions have been inexcusably selfish. without martyring myself, i did everything i could do to protect my children when their father and i divorced. when i learned that sanford chose to travel over FATHER’S DAY, i was disgusted.

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