Jewish World Review March 8, 2002 / 24 Adar, 5762

Lori Borgman

Lori Borgman
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
James Glassman
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Arianna Huffington
Jeff Jacoby
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

When Enron Momma gets mad -- IT'S a sad day when your own mother hangs you out to dry. Or is it?

One of the best quotes to come out of the Enron debacle belongs to the mother of CEO Jeff Skilling. This savvy businessman has claimed complete ignorance as to the company's crooked bookkeeping practices. His mother, Betty said, "When you are the CEO and you are on the board of directors, you are supposed to know what's going on with the rest of the company. You can't get off the hook with me there."

Ouch. Betty's mad. Maybe she's mad because she lost a lot of money. Or maybe she's mad because her grown son blew it and now the big lug is trying to weasel away.

Consider the things Betty could have said. She could have walked to the microphone, dabbed a tear and said, "Although Jeffie seems self-assured and successful on the outside, he suffers from low self-esteem that prohibits him from asking pertinent questions." She could have said her son made poor decisions because he had been emotionally fragile. Don't laugh. It worked for the corrupt Olympic skating judge from France.

Or, in keeping with contemporary trends, Betty could have blamed herself for her son's mess. Martyr mode, phase one: She could have pointed a finger at traumatic potty training or the fact that he was a late reader/later crawler/later talker (choose one). She could have, but she didn't. Betty basically said her son made his bed and now he's going to lie in it.

I like Betty. I wish we had more mothers like her. The world would be a lot better off if more mothers were willing to take their sons (of all ages) to the woodsheds instead of coddling them, pampering them and protecting them from the consequences of their actions.

Compare Skilling's mother to Osama bin Laden's mother. Alya Ghanem has been quoted as saying, "I do not approve of his ambitions and the actions attributed to him, but I am not angry with him."

Her son blows up two World Trade Center towers, blasts a wing of the Pentagon, annihilates four jetliners, murders thousands of innocent people and the woman's not angry? Fine. Then how about enraged? Incensed? Furious, maybe? Keeping your cool and refusing to blast with both barrels when your offspring falls completely off track isn't compassionate, it's crazy.

Osama's mother reminds me of a story Norman Mailer was fond of telling about his mother. "If I took a Tommy gun and shot up hundreds of people in a shopping mall, she would say, 'They must have said something truly awful to him.'" Mailer was being facetious, but today a lot of mothers embrace that attitude in earnest.

I have a son. I would throw myself between him and a speeding semi any day of the week, but he knows that if he blows it the first person in his face will be his mom. How does he know? From experience. The kid will tell you that when he messes up, his mom is all over him like drool on a baby.

There have been too many mothers making too many excuses for too many sons for too long. Betty Skilling may be the 10-second antidote to the modern malaise of parenting. She is a true gem, a dazzling rarity who refuses to make excuses for her son. She loves him enough to hold him accountable and cares enough to help hold his feet to the fire. Most of all, she has the backbone to treat her son like a man instead of a mouse.

JWR contributor Lori Borgman is the author of I Was a Better Mother Before I Had Kids. To comment, please click here.

03/01/02: Little hope for bookaholic
02/22/02: Wrestling with prejudice
02/15/02: Say What?
02/08/02: Kitchen intelligence
02/01/02: Age-old words
01/25/02: Abortion: Switching Sides
01/18/02: Kids, take note
01/11/02: The heart-stopper e-mail
01/04/02: The slightly sunny side of 2001
12/28/01: The Way Things Work
11/30/01: The Leftover Shuffle begins
11/27/01: Glasses bring age into focus
11/16/01: A different portion of Thanks
11/09/01: The Next Stage of Parenting
11/01/01: Of boys and patriotism
10/26/01: College Son the Invisible Man
10/19/01: Out of the closet ... and into the school
10/12/01: A Parent's Guide to Dating
10/05/01: "Taking Care of You"
09/28/01: Time indivisible
09/24/01: Refueling capitalism
09/14/01: A time to mourn
09/07/01: Lack of modesty stirs the troops
08/31/01: Scholarship search an education
08/24/01: The test for parents
08/17/01: Immodest proposals
08/10/01: Trying to R-r-r-re-re-relax
08/03/01: It may be shabby and chic, but it ain't cheap
07/20/01: Bride showered with sage advice
07/13/01: Baby Bear Finds Driving "Just Right"
07/06/01: Pale at the Thought of Bronze
06/29/01: A Dog's Best Friend
06/22/01: Rethinking fatherhood
06/14/01 Don't forget to lock the door
06/07/01 How grandma punishes her kids
06/01/01 Hearing voices
05/25/01 Cyborgs for Better or Worse
05/18/01 The death of Common Sense

© 2001, Lori Borgman