More Bad Parent Ethics

None of them shipped their child to Russia, this week’s bad parents betrayed an infant, a 13-year old boy, and an adult daughter spiraling toward disaster…

Tiffany Teahan

After disappearing and apparently leaving her car to make it look like she had met with foul play, Tiffany Teahan, a wife and mother of a one-year-old daughter, took off for Miami with a lover, determined to leave her old life behind. She also left behind a terrified family that suspected nothing, and dedicated law enforcement officials who spent an estimated 100 hours trying to find her. When Tiffany turned up, the usual nonsense turned up too. “The shame is punishment enough,” opined NBC legal analyst Dan Abrams. “What’s the crime?'”asked  family law attorney Michael Kretzmer on “Good Morning America.”We all make wrong decisions,” wrote a columnist, Katie Wright, for a local paper, in a piece entitled, “Let’s not judge Tiffany Teahan.”

No, let’s.

The only difference between the hoax Teahan tried to pull off and Richard Heene’s “balloon boy” scam is that he was deceiving the American public for personal gain, while she was deceiving her own family. One mistake? Faking your own demise, running out on your husband and infant daughter, and letting the country begin another sad search for a missing woman while she chased romantic fantasies on the beach isn’t one mistake, it’s about a hundred. Thousands upon thousands of stressed out parents imagine running away from it all every day, but they don’t, because they apply basic ethical reasoning and conclude that doing so will hurt people they love, and who trust and depend on them. Unless Teahan was forced by her dream date at gun-point, or was motivated by some kind of emotional breakdown, her husband shouldn’t trust her alone with their child, and authorities should seek fines, at very least, for her fake disappearance. Greene County Prosecuting Attorney Stephen K. Haller and Xenia City Prosecutor Ronald C. Lewis have issued subpoenas for documents that might illuminate Tiffany’s case and help them determine if charges should be filed against her.

Good.

Michael Lohan

Long engaged in a competition with Dina Lohan, his ex-wife and mother of his two daughters, train-wreck former Disney star Lindsay Lohan and younger sister train-wreck-in-training Ali, for “worst celebrity parent ever” ( she still leads him in the Lohan Division, but Ryan O’Neal  has a lap on everyone else in the over-all race), Michael Lohan continues to conspire to thow an anchor to his daughter as she slowly drowns in bad publicity, drugs and depression.

Supposedly trying to “save” Lindsay, he pulled a surprise police-accompanied raid on her apartment to check on her welfare (arguably good) and then gave an interview to the paparazzi website TMZ describing what he saw (beyond despicable.) If Lohan’s father really wanted to help his daughter, rather than use her problems to become a D-List  celebrity himself, he would try to earn her trust by keeping their interactions confidential, as the relations between father and troubled daughter should always be. Telling TMZ for publication that “There’s a mattress on the floor with just sheets; there’s no furniture and Lindsay’s laying on the bed” would prompt any daughter to cut off contact with a parent, who would have proven, as Michael Lohan has, that he neither respects his daughter;s privacy nor cares about her feelings.

Paul Romero

Romero’s 13-year-old son, Jordan, is about to attempt to become the youngest mountain climber to scale Mount Everest, and Dad thinks anyone who doesn’t think this is swell is just confused. “I think it’s responsible parenting,” Romero has said. “Taking my son around the world, trying to give him the best education and life experiences that I possibly can. … So much has been placed on this 13, this number. It doesn’t mean much to us. The experience, the background he has may be more than half the people climbing this mountain right now.”

Right. Except that he’s only 13. A 13 year old has neither the judgment or the strength of an adult, and he does not have the maturity to be responsible for his own decisions. This all started because Jordan wanted to climb all the major peaks in the world by his 16th birthday.  Cute: and this is when a responsible parent says, “No.” If he tries Everest when he’s 21 and dies, as people who try to climb the world’s highest mountain do with some regularity, at least he made an informed decision and at least he lived 21 years. I see little difference between sending 13-year-old Jordan Romero up a potentially deadly mountain and Dakota Fanning’s mother allowing her to film a brutal rape scene when she was 12 in the film, “Hounddog.” In both cases, a child is endangered, and in both the parent protests that it was the child’s choice, and the child was “experienced.” Well, no child is experienced enough to agree to subject himself or herself to peril, physical, or emotional.

If, as could happen, young Romero dies or is seriously injured on Everest, there will be immediate steps to prevent other children from making the climb, though nothing new will have been learned. This makes no sense. We know now, before any child dies, that there is no need for any 13-year-old to climb Mount Everest, and to allow him to subject himself to the risk, even if it is no more than the risk facing an adult climber (though it almost certainly is), is irresponsible and wrong. But we are content to wait for the tragedy that proves it, and will let Paul Romero smugly allow his son to gamble his life before he can possibly understand what he stands to lose.

A final thought: how would we decide which of these three is the most irresponsible parent? In terms of risk to the child, the clear “winner” would have to be Romero. Yet Lindsay Lohan’s father has loudly announced his awareness of the possibly fatal path of self-destructive behavior she is following—after all, he helped put her on that path—and yet continues to use her problems as his meal-ticket rather than doing anything constructive. Could this mean that Tiffany Teahan, who up and abandoned her infant daughter, is the most responsible of these parents?

9 thoughts on “More Bad Parent Ethics

  1. Pingback: More Bad Parent Ethics « Ethics Alarms Search

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  3. Pingback: More Bad Parent Ethics « Ethics Alarms Children Me

  4. Jack,
    Minor editing note, but I believe you listed “Michael Lohan” twice by mistake. Otherwise, an exemplary piece ..

    -Neil

    • YIKES! Well, that would be confusing—no point in blaming ALL bad parenting on Lindsay’s Dad. I’m 1) trying to figure out how that happened and 2) why you were the first one to flag it. Maybe only 6 people read this thing. Oh well..good to give the blogging trail lawyers another opportunity to call me an idiot—that always perks up the traffic.

      Thanks, Neil.

  5. I don’t know why I am still amazed at the way some parents knowingly put their children in danger. The fact that some do it for money or publicity makes it even more sordid and sad.

  6. You forgot the TWO sets of parents who currently have 16 year old girls trying to circumnavigate the planet nonstop and alone in sailboats.

    While we’re on it, why not list any organization that has a record for ‘Youngest (fill in blank here) to (insert risky, dangerous activity here).’

  7. Dear Jack: Agreed. It’s not just in Hollywood that these outrages are committed. But, I maintain, Hollywood provides the “inspiration” for many of them through the example of the toxic culture it leads. I’ve commented much on people like the Lohans, the Fannings (in particular!) and others from Lalaland who’ve unabashedly exploited and perverted their own children before the eyes of the world. The reason I’ve done so is the one you illustrate here. It’s not just about acting kids (although that’s enough- they’re kids, too) but the inexorable images and examples they’ve set for millions of American children; past and present. Along with them come the largely transparent excuses their publicists have spread to legitimize their crimes. Societal decay is the result of this… and we see it everywhere. But- as I’ve often said- this web of perversion has a monster spider at its center. And that arachnid is Hollywood!

  8. Pingback: When An Ethical Parent Must Veto a Child’s Dream « Ethics Alarms

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