Excerpts from the transcript released by NBC News are disturbing to read:
ANN CURRY:Two statements that Suleman made are red flags indicating how troubled this woman is.
How did an only child end up with 14 children?
That was always a dream of mine, to have a large family, a huge family, and-- I just longed for certain connections and attachments with another person that I-- I really lacked, I believe, growing up.
Describe what you felt you lacked within.
Feeling of self and identity. I didn't feel as though, when I was a child, I had much control of my environment. I felt powerless. And that gave me a sense of predictability. I-- reflecting back on my childhood, I know it wasn't functional. It was pretty-- pretty dysfunctional, and whose isn't?
The first one, "I just longed for certain connections and attachments with another person that...I really lacked...growing up," is essentially what most teen girls give as the reason for becoming pregnant; they just want to love someone and receive unconditional love in return.
The second one, which revolves around the desire for a large family and the belief that having children "gave me a sense of predictability," is her way of deflecting criticism; she's using the 'I had a hard life' excuse to explain her missteps. That doesn't forgive her her poor choices or her instability. It's just another attempt to sidestep accountability and shrug off blame.
I may sound harsh, but I understand her all too well. I too was an only child who often felt lonely, isolated, and powerless. My parents moved constantly - five times in my first six years of school. Their marriage was rocky and my father's infidelity extended over decades. That's just the tip of the iceberg. The rest is too personal for public consumption.
Yet like many of us who have lived through difficult times, I don't dwell on it; I've never trotted out the dog and pony show of my dysfunctional childhood as a way to dodge the personal responsibility and accountability that a stable and productive adulthood requires. I grew up, built my own life independent of my family, began working, got married and have two almost-adult children now and a good solid career. In other words, I did what I needed to do to heal myself, get over it, and move on.
What I want to say to Nadya Suleman is this: Don't look to your children to compensate for an unhappy childhood - that's not what parenting is about. You can still change your life around. But you have to put an end to this 'my childhood made me do it' excuse. Otherwise, you're going to pass it down to your own children and perpetuate your family's intergenerational cycle of dysfunction.
Unfortunately, Suleman's paid PR consultant has apparently decided that the highly effective get-out-of-jail-free 'dysfunctional childhood' story is the best angle to take as she begins her media tour.
Eliciting sympathy for a woman with 14 children under age 8 is one thing. But using a carefully-contrived 'angle' and waving 'dysfunction' in our face to tug at our heartstrings so that we'll pity 'this poor woman' is manipulative. It's a slap in the face for every person who's privately endured personal trauma and quietly turned her/his life around through hard work and effort, without ever once invoking the 'I deserve a break, I had a hard childhood' excuse.
Nadya Suleman is a poor role model for her own irresponsibly-conceived family, and she needs to step up, be accountable, and stop making excuses. It's time for her to grow up.