A Weekly Column
By Joseph Walker


Letís be very clear about something right up front: Andrea messed up.

Iím not going to go into a lot of detail about how and why; it really isnít important. Keep in mind that weíre talking about Andrea, our practically perfect 19-year-old, so you know it isnít anything life-alteringly serious. But it was a fairly major mess-up Ė for Andrea Ė one that needed to be handled deftly, with finesse and skill, or a bad situation could turn infinitely worse.

Which is why I was prepared to step in.

"Hereís what she needs to do," I told Anita as I sketched out a well-reasoned outline of what Andrea should say and to whom she should say it in order to minimize the potential negative impacts of her bad choice. In fact, if I played my cards right Ė er, I mean, if Andrea played HER cards right Ė we might be able to make Andrea look like an innocent victim, or even a martyr.

Hey, 11 years of professional PR ought to teach you something Ė am I right?

Uh, no Ė I am wrong.

"Why would we want to do that?" Anita asked.

"Do what?"

"Make Andrea look innocent," Anita explained. "She isnít. Or did I miss something here?"

"Well, yes," I said. "Technically, youíre correct. But itís Andrea weíre talking about here. Our daughter. We want whatís best for her, donít we?"

"Yes we do," Anita replied. "And whatís best for her is to learn from her mistake so she doesnít do it again."

That made sense. It was so simple. It was so clear. It was so obvious. Thatís probably why I still couldnít see it.

"But I thought that was our job Ė to teach her," I said.

"Well, it is," Anita acknowledged. "But life is the greatest teacher of all. And right now life is going to teach Andrea a lesson in a more memorable way than anything you or I could say or do."

"OK," I said. "I get it. I think. So what are we going to do to make this lesson happen?"

Anita shrugged her shoulders and shook her head. "Nothing," she said.


"Nothing," she repeated. "Andrea is an adult, and she made this mistake on her own. Weíre going to let her deal with it on her own."

"But if we donít do something," I said, "something bad might happen to her."


"Something painful."


"And she might . . . you know . . . cry and stuff."


"And that doesnít bother you?"

"Sure it does," Anita said. "I donít like to see bad things happen to any of my children. But when they bring it on themselves, there isnít much I can do besides be there to love them and support them when lifeís consequences happen. And to pray that they learn the lesson."

So they donít mess up again.

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††††††††† --- © Joseph Walker



Look for Joe's book, "How Can You Mend a Broken Spleen? Home Remedies for an Ailing World." It is available on-line through and