The greatest gift we bestow upon our children is to live an exemplary life, one they can emulate. But let’s be honest. Who among us hasn’t at one time or another done something we regret and that we hope no one will ever discover. We are all guilty of poor judgment—driving while drunk, walking out of a store without paying for a candy bar, doing illegal drugs, a seemingly innocent office flirtation that went too far, or taking an unreasonable risk. We’ve all done things that ended with our asking, “What was I thinking?”
It’s easy to slam Arnold Schwarzenneger and, believe me, I am not his defender. Having said that, I believe him when he says he’s truly sorry and I don’t believe that it’s just because he got caught. Like any dad, he loves his children and he is no doubt dying a thousand deaths that his kids have to bear witness to the consequences of a very poor choice. He’s asking himself, “What was I thinking?” The enormity of the price-tag for whatever momentary “benefit” he got has only begun to sink in. Not just for him, but for his entire family, including the innocent boy who will forever carry the moniker “Arnold’s love child.”
So, now that Arnold has very publicly screwed up, what, if anything, can he and Maria Shriver teach their children? If we can discern anything from what little bit Patrick and Katherine (two of the children) have had to say about it, Arnold and Maria appear to have already laid the groundwork for lessons learned. Both kids have Tweeted that they love their family very much. That’s a good start. The lessons to be learned are these:
We all make mistakes. Every one of us. Compassion, forgiveness, and understanding are necessary in every relationship. How Maria handles this situation is very important to the lessons her children learn. She does not have to take Arnold back into her loving arms and it’s not likely that she will. He has big-time betrayed her trust and if she’s some kind of pissed off, who can blame her? However, by taking the high road, she can show her children that, despite the consequences and the enormity of the betrayal, Arnold is no different than the rest of us. We all make mistakes. Their love for their father should not be conditioned on his perfection.