Beliefnet
Chattering Mind

Some of us may have been called “idiotic” or “stupid” as kids. We know how that feels. It doesn’t feel good.

So when actor Alec Baldwin’s April 11th voice message to his eleven-year-old daughter Ireland was leaked today, we all got to hear how a successful actor communicates with his daughter (born of actress Kim Basinger) by cell phone message when he feels let down that she hasn’t called him as previously arranged.

Some excerpts: (just skip over this if you’ve already heard it online or on television) “You are a rude, thoughtless little pig…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…I made an ass out of myself trying to make this call. You have insulted me for the last time. You’ve made me feel like a fool over and over and over again. I’m gonna straighten your ass out when I see you, do you understand me?”

Baldwin, apparently, is so prickly on the subject of his parenting skills that he’s contemplated suicide in the past for being labeled a less than perfect dad.

Google research reveals that Baldwin’s own father was a history teacher and tough-guy football coach who died of cancer when Alec was twenty five (a devastating blow apparently). Baldwin has spoken to the press in the past about how desperately he wanted to talk politics as a kid (still an interest) so he could be closer to his dad. “When I was 10 years old,” Baldwin remembers here, “I was watching [the television news show] Huntley-Brinkley and trying to figure out the French role in Vietnam…If you wanted to speak a language that meant something to [my father], that was the way to do it.”

Not to excuse him, or portray him as wounded (all of us wanted to impress our fathers, didn’t we?). I really just want to say this to our overbearing bully of the day: don’t kill yourself for being outted as a rotten parent, Al; get therapy, pray for your daughter’s forgiveness (for surely recent revelations must only be the tip of the iceberg), and read Jon and Myla Kabat-Zinn’s marvelous book “Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting.” It’s late, but it’s never too late. The healing can begin today!

Here’s Sarah van Gelder’s interview with Jon and Myla Kabat-Zinn about “how the Buddhist concept of mindfulness can help us to see the wholeness and beauty of our children in each moment,” to give you a feel for how the Kabat-Zinns spoke (in person, not by cellphone) to their children when they were growing up. It’ll heal you if this Baldwin cell phone message has stirred anything painful up in you!

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