Meet the Press   |  October 27, 2013

The politics of parenting

A Meet the Press roundtable discusses parenting after a Maryland politician apologizes for his appearance at a party with underage drinking.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> let me turn you to something else that really struck me this week because it's about politics but it's also about parenting. i've got young kids, i think all of us have kids of various ages around the table. it has to do with the maryland attorney general who over the summer was at a party and was looking for his son. and you see him there, this is doug ganser, the attorney general. he's got his iphone out there. he was at the party and later explained it saying he just wanted to talk to his son, but there was apparently underage drinking going on as there probably is at a lot of parties. this is what he said last week when he was asked about it.

>> perhaps i should have assumed there was drinking going on and i got that wrong. what i can tell you is that at no time while i was in the house did i see any teenager in any danger or any risk. there could be kool-aid in the red cups but there's probably beer in the red cups.

>> what should he have done? and i'm not just asking this as a journalist to a politician but as a parent.

>> to defend a democrat, the spirit of bipartisanship, if i've learned anything raising teenagers who are now in their 20s, it's that a parent has to be there. you have to be involved every day. and to his credit, he was. okay? there's going to be a beach week, kids are going to be there. you know what's going to happen, every parent does. but at least he was there and he has rules, and he was trying to enforce them.

>> what rules was he trying to enforce?

>> well, he was there and --

>> but if there's drinking going on and you're a representative of your state.

>> what he did wrong was he acted as a politician and not a parent. he's saying things in that press conference that all of us know are not true to get him in a political situation. instead, what should he have said? i was there, i was going to take care of my kids the best i could, i tried to enforce the rules --

>> look, i have teenage boys and i have teenage girls . my teenage boys and girls do not go tie party where there's drinking, they leave. if they don't leave, i'm going to go and tell the parent that i don't want any activity like that going on where my son or daughter is at. that's what you do as a parent. you stand up and fight for them and you fight for what's right for them, and the fact that he didn't do that -- there was a day when parents actually went to other parents and said, hey, stop doing things that undermine the morals of my children. but i guess we don't do that anymore.

>> we seem to lack community standards in a lot of ways. here's what i find. there is much too much reluctance to say to you, you know, i have a question about what your kids were doing. i have a question about what you were doing at your house when my kid was over there, and can we talk about that?

>> i don't have teenage kids. i have a tween, and i definitely think you have to send the right message to your kids. sanctioning a beach party is not something i would do. but i would say one of the hardest things is there are a lot of parents, when you deliver a message, whether it's bullying or underage drinking , those other parents don't want to hear it. and it is a big tension. to be able to go -- i think he should have gone to other parents. i think he should not have hosted the beach week. that's my personal view of this.

>> i don't know that he was actually hosting it himself, but the point is, too, my wife who is former federal prosecutor says you are either an upstander or bystander. there are laws on the books and he is the attorney general governor . he may say, look, i'm a parent, this is not my place. but he is the attorney general of the state.

>> there is a parental hat, and i hate this story because there but for the grace of god for any of us who have teenagers could act, but as a political hat, he was in a position to be at a place with a bunch of young people drinking who all have cell phones. politically that was not a smart move for him. as a parent, however, he does need to be present. and he made sure there were chaperones there, but the chaperones obviously weren't doing their job if all the underage kids were drinking.

>> the parents did this together. they got that for those kids.

>> here's part of my point. as a politician, you have the spotlight. as a parent, what we parents need to know , my kids are young, 11 and 8, and i'm more worried about technology than i am about drinking and drugs yet. whether it's sexuality, allegations of rape, drugs, all sorts of things can be happen at these parties. we have to have a communication about the legal difficulties and the moral difficulties of doing this. that was a time to have that conversation.

>> when your kids get to be teenagers, all our kids grow old too young and have to deal with things they're not prepared to do. and these things will happen. they're going to find themselves in this situation. step one, i think to ganser's credit, is to be there as a parent. he at least did that. did he make the right call? he should have done something. but let's give the guy some credit. at least he was participating in the lives of his kids. he missed one.