An email to Andrew Sullivan, about the fuss over Willow and Bristol Palin:
I am dismayed at all the online hysterics over the immature behavior of Sarah Palin’s children. For the record, I am no fan of Sarah Palin and I don’t understand how anyone could support her bid for attention, much less a role in government.
That said, I have to speak as a parent: the idea that we have control over what our children say and do when we are not present is a complete illusion. We do what we can to inculcate the proper morals and concomitant behavior, but children eventually figure out that they don’t really have to do what we say. It is our hope that the realization is delayed until they reach a level of maturity that leads to good choices. It is an uneven road to that time, and some choices are better than others.
Kids still don’t understand the impact of the Internet, and they will write things online that they say in private conversation. And yes, they will say stupid things that are not okay. Who among us has not? Thank God I didn’t have the Internet to permanently catalogue my mistakes when I was a kid. And either way, I know as a former Language Arts teacher that poor spelling is no indicator of intelligence or ethics, cringe-inducing as it might be.
Palin’s children did not grow up in the urban landscape of big-city politics. They do not have the political experience or understanding that, say, Bush’s children would have had. Alaska is populated by smart and independent people who say what they think, in my experience. The idea that one must be circumspect is not a natural conclusion in an environment in which survival depends more on community and outdoor skills than political savvy.
Lay off the kids. They’re not changing the political landscape; we are, by the choices we make.