“Tanning Mom” No Different Than Any Addicted Parent

For the past week, “Tanning Mom” Patricia Krentcil has been in the public eye. Now I hope everyone takes a good look. She’s a poster mom for addictions that afflict parents and negatively impact children.

Krentcil tanned until she turned herself into a freak. Not because she wanted to look like Al Jolson in blackface or because it’s pledge week, but because she’s addicted to it. And like any addict, she needs intervention.

Krentcil’s story has been in the news recently because she took her young daughter to a tanning salon, although the details remain unclear. As I see it, she is just like any parent hooked on drinking, drugging, smoking, eating, or not eating, for that matter.

And her child needs protection. I’m not talking about reports that Krentcil took her five year-old daughter to a tanning salon. I’m talking about the fact that the skin cannot take all the UV rays we can give it. Sadly, people get skin cancer. And when moms get skin cancer they can get sick and even die, leaving children behind.

This tanning salon addict is like a friend of mine, a heavy smoker who always says, “Well, I’m going to die anyway. I might as well enjoy my cigarettes.” Or an aunt and uncle who believe they can eat inordinant amounts of whatever they want – damned the diabetes.

What kind of a message is it to send a child, that one’s skin is not the right shade naturally, and needs to be altered?

What kind of a message is it when parents smoke in front of their kids, polluting the air in the house and potentially raising the child’s risk of developing respiratory ailments like asthma or dying of SIDS?

And what kind of pathetic message is it when parents ton-up on food, over-filling their plates at every opportunity? I’ve seen adults do this at buffet restaurants, church suppers and even Girl Scout camp. It’s gross. I can’t imagine how much they shove down their throats at home. But the kids aren’t thinking, “Gee Mom, I hope you’re around for my graduation.” Kids just want to be loved.
Patricia Krentcil has made a spectacle of herself, like the women who walk around in public with exposed cleavage or tatoos and piercings up the ying-yang. When somebody stares at them, they get bent out of shape. Why do they do it in the first place? I don’t know. I’m not a psychologist. We tell our kids not to stare at the handicapped. Maybe this disorder applies.

Maybe people have strong reactions to stories like this because they feel so helpless. There’s nothing anyone can do. I felt that way after 9/11 when a father and son were thrown out of an Albany shopping mall for wearing t-shirts with the peace sign – shirts they had just purchased there. It seems the management thought the two were unpatriotic for their choice of attire.

We gave away many of our civil rights for our own protection after 9/11, as well as freedoms that have nothing to do with our protection. Yet children who live with addicted parents often have no one to protect them. The public roars in protest, saying keep the government out of private lives.

I think we should all stand ready to protect a child, because no child should have to live with an addicted parent. It only perpetuates the dysfunction.  FFG

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