About a month ago, entrepreneur dad Daryl Austin wrote an opinion article for USA Today criticizing Chip and Joanna Gaines’ family values – specifically for saying they put their “family first.” Austin wrote that he believed that it simply wasn’t possible, and that “…I think their millions of fans and would-be imitators need to remember: Chip and Joanna Gaines did not get where they are by putting their family first.”
As you can imagine, Austin’s article created quite the controversy with Fixer Upper-lovers and Magnolia devotees. Austin’s allegations that Chip and Joanna Gaines spend their time on their businesses and NOT their family were not, I believe, intended to be mean-spirited, but they did come across that way. Even Chip Gaines himself had a response:
I dont know daryl, & he clearly doesnt know me. But for the record: If there is ever a need w/ my family (1st), I'll shut this circus down so fast it will make your head spin. BUT jo & I believe, w/ God anything is possible. Including having an amazing family AND career you love. https://t.co/3DbWIIKMnh
— Chip Gaines (@chipgaines) April 28, 2018
Mic drop, Chipper.
Anyway. After a month, it seems, Austin has changed his mind. And I tell you what, my friends, I have mad respect for him. If everyone could do apologies as Austin did, in such a complete and humble way, we’d have a lot more peace in this world we live in. In an article he wrote for Fox News entitled “Chip and Joanna Gaines, I’m sorry I slammed your family values — Please accept my apology,” Austin says:
“I recently wrote an opinion article for USA Today that was critical of the parenting choices of HGTV’s “Fixer Upper” couple, Chip and Joanna Gaines. I regret writing it.
I didn’t write it to be hurtful, out of jealousy, or to cause controversy – all motives I was accused of. I wrote it for one simple reason: because I believed every word I wrote to be true.”
Austin then goes on to explain that soon after his original article and controversy dropped, he took his own family on a vacation to Mexico, where he witnessed children living on the streets, foraging garbage for food, with no parental care of supervision. As he rode through those mean streets on a cushy tour bus, wanting to shield his own children’s eyes from the suffering of their peers, he started, he says, to feel “very, very small.” He goes on:
“I smiled as I realized how lucky any of those kids without parents would feel to have a mother and father like Chip and Joanna Gaines. I don’t know them personally, but I suspect they really are terrific parents. I’ve never said or thought otherwise. And just because Chip Gaines chooses to spend his time differently than I do doesn’t make him any less of a father.
Mine was a flawed argument that projected my if/then belief system onto another family. My intention was to start a conversation about what it actually means to put family first, but my means of doing so were way off course.
If our society is ever going to have the conversations we need to be having, judging and shaming one another is a terrible place to begin, especially when there are so many more serious concerns that need addressing.”
I think it would be a shame if the eye-opening lesson Austin learned wasn’t spread to the rest of us — and hopefully we won’t have to learn it by such dramatic means. I think ALL parents struggle with judging each other and accepting that the parenting choices we’ve made, clung to, and championed aren’t one-size-fits-all. Personally, I know I have struggled with judging other parents, and while it’s ok to admit that, it’s definitely not ok to let it continue.
So, Daryl Austin, thanks for eating that slice of humble pie and leading the way with this important truth: judging each other as parents is rarely helpful.