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Kids as Props

September 17, 2014

It’s been said that there are two kinds of people in the world: Those with family problems and those who lie about having family problems.

Yes, you can have a good run. There are periods when everything seems to be going well in the family. But then you wake up one day and it occurs to you that your parents are in decline, your spouse isn’t happy like he or she once was, your brother-in-law has a drinking problem, and, oh yeah, you aren’t getting any younger.

But all of this you can hack. You just say to yourself: It is what it is.

The thing for which there is no ready rationalization, however, is concern for your children. No matter how old they are, you still worry about them.  In this regard, another truism – this one from the mother in our group – is that, at any given moment, you’re only so happy as your least happy child.

Against this backdrop, what kind of parent uses their kid as a prop in a political campaign? And the answer is: A parent who is selfish and immature and thinking only of themselves.

In this regard, you can bet your family home that Rob Astorino’s 11-year-old son wasn’t reading the newspapers in Western New York or trolling the internet for political news.  You can bet he wasn’t too concerned that the Erie County Democratic Party cropped his image out of a picture they used in a political ad.

You can bet that the boy didn’t go his parents and his father’s political advisors and say: “Hey, I’ve got an idea. Why don’t I cut a smart-alecky ad in which I call out the governor for dissing our family?”

No, this wasn’t the kid’s idea. This wasn’t the campaign consultant’s idea. This wasn’t the mother’s idea. It was Rob Astorino’s idea and he ought to be ashamed of himself.

Guard the privacy of your children. Keep them out of the spotlight. Shelter them from the political world at all costs.

You do this because, at a minimum, it’s a colossal diversion from the real world of family and school and church that a child should be focused on.

You do it because kids can easily get messed up by thinking they are something special simply because they are the offspring of a prominent person.

Most of all, you do it because placing a child in the public eye now buys him added scrutiny later on. You guarantee that if he or she ever has a misstep in life, it will be covered by the media.

Of all the stupid and hapless things Astorino has done in this campaign, this is the stupidest.

But he’s not alone. More than anyone else, Bill DeBlasio used his kids for political purposes. Yes, you can make the case that Dante is older and appealingly self confident. But Dante is a celebrity now, and whatever he does – good or bad – will be covered.  Thanks, Dad.

We’ll exercise some restraint now. Without going into the details of it, we’ll simply say that for all the same reasons, Bill and Chirlane were really wrong to publicize their daughter’s problems.

Alas, maybe we’ve got it twisted around.

Maybe there’s some ground-breaking work by a child psychologist that says that media attention is good for kids.

Maybe adopting a phony public persona is a great bonding experience for parent and child.

Maybe the knowledge that whatever you do in the future will be covered by the media is a good motivator for young people.

Maybe…but we don’t think so.

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