Last night, Beyoncé, who happens to be one of the most successful entertainers on Planet Earth, brought home an armload of Grammys. Is she a role model for our kids? Is she an amazing success story and a talented artist? Turns out, not everyone thinks so.
Last month, Mike Huckabee, former Arkansas governor and Republican presidential candidate (who may seek his party’s nomination again in 2016), criticized the Obamas for allowing their daughters to listen to Beyoncé’s music. In his book, “Gods, Guns, Grits and Gravy,” Huckabee describes Queen Bey’s music as “mental poison,” and says her dance moves are “best left for the privacy of her bedroom.”
In an interview with People magazine, Huckabee called the President and First Lady “excellent and exemplary parents in many ways,” but then said: ”I don’t understand how on one hand they can be such doting parents and so careful about the intake of everything — how much broccoli [their daughters’] eat and where they go to school and making sure they’re kind of sheltered and shielded from so many things — and yet they don’t see anything that might not be suitable for either a preteen or a teen in some of the lyrical content and choreography of Beyoncé.”
(I don’t know … I’ve always found Beyoncé’s dancing pretty amazing and also not overly explicit compared to some of what’s out there, and I love the empowering message and vibe behind many of her songs. But let’s put that aside for a moment).
Bloomberg Politics polled people in Iowa, where the first caucus in the 2016 primary will take place next January, and found that the majority of them, both Democrats and Republicans, feel that Huckabee went too far in critiquing the Obamas. One Republican father said it’s one thing to hate the music, “but I don’t know that I’d tell a parent whether or not they should tell their kids to listen to it.”
I agree! OK, so the Obamas are not flawless parents, certainly not in the eyes of their political rivals. But that doesn’t mean you try to bring them down for their parenting. It also doesn’t seem right to make their parenting a public, political issue. Does how the President raise his daughters affects how he does his job? Should it be any of our business? I don’t think so.
I’m sure we’ve all been criticized for our parenting at one time or another. When my son was a baby, I often received reprimands and reminders from well-intentioned older women who seemed to think I didn’t know how to parent. Strangers on the street told me to put mittens on my little guy (I tried, but he always pulled them off), or to keep the sun out of his sensitive little eyes. More recently, an acquaintance saw my family dressed as characters from the cartoon Adventure Time at Halloween and said “that’s an adult show!” Something very similar to saying “that’s not appropriate” about the music you allow your child to listen to, or listen with while you’re around.
So far, the First Family has stayed out of the fray by not responding to Huckabee’s comments. And perhaps that’s a lesson to all of us, when we find ourselves under critical eyes. Don’t even deign it with a response, just smile and nod and move along. Because what’s going to happen if you do fight back? A war of parenting egos will break out, and that’s no good for any one, especially your child.
As Beyoncé herself has wisely said, “When you love and accept yourself, when you know who really cares about you, and when you learn from your mistakes, then you stop caring about what people who don’t know you think.”