Friday, April 30, 2010

Getting sacked from “the blind side”

Renae Smith, NFI's Special Assistant to the President, had this to say about the Sandra Bullock divorce:

Few are surprised that Sandra Bullock filed for divorce last Friday from Jesse James, who admitted to having an affair while Bullock was filming The Blind Side. It's ironic and sad that Bullock's husband abandoned his marriage vows while she won an Academy Award for a movie about a strong, intact family. As we’ve said numerous times on The Father Factor related to Tiger Woods, Jon Gosselin, and Steve McNair, when celebrities violate their marriage vows, it’s not only publicly humiliating, but it leaves a hurtful legacy for their children.

What makes the Bullock-James divorce unique from other celebrity splits is that they were in the process of adopting a 3 ½-month-old boy from New Orleans named Louis, whom Bullock will now raise as a single mom. James has said that losing Louis has "left a huge hole in [his] heart."

Interesting choice of words… NFI President Roland C. Warren often says that children have a hole in their soul in their shape of their dad, and when their dad is not able or willing to fill that hole it leaves wounds that aren’t easily healed.

Little Louis will now join the ranks of the 24 million children growing up without their fathers, and, given the actions of the man who almost was his adoptive father, the hole in his heart could bring some unique pain.

New York Times columnist David Brooks addresses Bullock’s simultaneous cinematic success and relational troubles, and more specifically what family breakdown says about our culture’s priorities, in an article titled "The Sandra Bullock Trade." Brooks connects the dots between marital happiness and overall well-being – a connection that he says our culture doesn’t make very well in how we educate our youth, where we focus more on preparing for careers than preparing to make social decisions.

NFI agrees with Brooks that we need to invest more time in preparing youth to make good decisions – and we think marriage is one of the most important ones. Thus we created Why Knot?, a marriage-readiness program designed to prepare young men to make the decision to get married and subsequently to be good husbands to their wives (and by extension, good fathers to their kids). For pre-teen boys, we created Boyz2Dads, an interactive CD-ROM that helps boys prepare to make good choices related to relationships and peer pressure.

Jesse James’s behavior has not provided a good example of a husband and father to his children, but he seems to be on the right road toward fixing that by admitting his faults and seeking help. Meanwhile, NFI is working to promote a culture that prepares youth for the important responsibilities of being a husband and father – a mission we take seriously when so many children like Louis lack that role model. We don’t want to see other families, as Brooks puts it, “getting sacked from the spiritual blind side.”

1 comment:

  1. I concur, Mr. James' choices were remarkably short sighted and ill-timed, as is the case in every infidelity, but I'm not sure we want to immediately condemn Louis, the adopted son, to automatically join the legion of struggling boys growing up without their fathers. Sandra Bullock's fiance is probably a long way from being a good husband, but it remains to be see if that automatically means an equally bad father.Its safe to say his fatherhood is off to a poor start, but that doesn't mean it can't heal and grow. While James' disrespected his vows, those same vows actually give him the legal toe-hold to continue to be in his child's life via a family court and have that chance at healing. We should be talking about all aspects of marriage, including one of its historical underpinnings, "legalizing" fatherhood. While I think its hard to refute the small mountain of eveidence that healthy marriages greatly benefit everyone, and I whole heartedly support marriage (having been in an unsuccessful one and now a successful one), what we in the fatherhood field are sorely lacking is a comprehensive and cogent discussion about marriage as an institution including its historical premises, some of which have limitations like simply presuming that superficial biological paternal uncertainty has to be legally justified as it is inherantly somehow dishonest(the source of the old phrase "make an honest woman (or man) out of her (him)", instead of simply being scientifically determined, particularly in light of the era of over-the-counter paternity tests. With biological paternity relatively easily determined we need conversation about the community act, not just the personal act, that marriage represents. That should be the start of conversations around the celebrity infidelities of the day.


We welcome many points of view and great discussion. However, please be aware that comments go through an approval process. The blog administrators reserve the right to not post or delete any comments that are not appropriate (ie: comments with obscene, explicit, sexist, racist or otherwise derogatory language), impolite (ie: comments containing personal attacks, insults or threats), dishonest (ie: potentially libelous comments), or are spam. Thanks for understanding!