Am I Lori Loughlin?

by Cristina | Last Updated: March 20, 2019

It’s almost impossible at this point to not be aware of the college admissions scandal going on at USC, Yale, Wake Forest and a few other universities.  When the news first broke, I was shocked. I mean the Aunt Becky I knew would never be going to jail.    “Appalled”, “Disgusting”, “Selfish”, and “Entitled” are just some of the words being thrown around at drop off, the girl’s soccer practice, the gym, and anywhere else I find myself.  I didn’t hear a single person defend her. I mean defending her is not exactly possible. I did try to see and understand her point of view. I mean she’s a parent, she’s a mom.

There is this funny phenomenon that has happened {at least to me} in parenting, in where I found myself doing and saying things I never ever thought I would say or do.  My decision making process no longer includes things for myself, but for these three tiny people that I brought into the world. To say that I lose a grip on what is “fair” or “rational” in the midst of a decision that involves my children would be putting it mildly.  In the name of doing what “I think is best” for my children, I have now found that this includes many things that I would not have imagined prior to having kids or being in that scenario.

In all of our own small ways we “Lori Loughlin” our kids’ lives.  How many of us have given extra donations to our place of worship in an attempt to guarantee a spot for our child at the school or class? How many of us have put deposits down at the “best preschools” in an attempt to reserve spots to the detriment of other people who needed to secure a school more desperately than we did?   How many of us have sent gifts in an effort to influence teachers and principals to make sure our kids got the “good” teacher or “gifted” placing? How many of us have put our noses into making sure our kids got the “best” coach or got playing time? How many of us fight and scratch at each other to get the “most sought out” standardized test teacher? Plumped our kids’ resumes?  How many of use or plan to use “legacy” to get them into a prestigious high school or college? How many of us use the side doors available to us?

Where is the line? We are privileged.  We, as a society of privileged parents, create this culture that our kid must be and have the best.  It’s this unspoken philosophy of doing what it takes for our own children, sparing no expense.  Never stopping to think that the price of these decisions are not just monetary there is a social cost, and no one, myself included, likes to think about it that way.

Is this college admissions scandal too far? Absolutely. Should she and the other 33 parents, 9 coaches, and others be punished? Without hesitation, yes. 

The system has punished other parents for doing far less to help their children advance.   Here is the story of a mother, Kelley Williams-Bolar,  who was  arrested and sentenced to jail for 10 days plus 3 years probation on the charge of falsifying her address to get her daughters into a better school district.  Kelley was also sentenced to pay $30,000 in “back tuition” {for a public school}, for the education her children received.  Can you imagine? This woman just wanted to give her children the chance to receive a better education in another district. Perhaps that is where our disgust should be redirected. We are worrying about booking the most elite standardized test teacher, while other people are just trying to get their children something that we take for granted- a great education.  

Following these thoughts, I started to wonder, if I were put in the position to do what Lori did- would I? The truth is- I cannot know.   How could I know? As of right now, my husband did not create a clothing brand found in every Target across the universe, and I was not the famous aunt on a long running syndicated TV show that just got a reboot on Netflix.  It’s impossible to say that I would not have taken the same opportunity she did if all things were the same (all things defined as access and money, both limitless). I’d like to think I wouldn’t do it. I try to think that I would not cross the line and do something I know to be illegal. I would like to think I would let the cards fall where they may and have my kids attend colleges to which they earned admission, on their own merits.  I know most parents with similar access and money do not decide to cheat. I know a lot of parents stress hard work, work ethic, and determination. We definitely do that here in our house.

However, I return to how rational any person can be when making decisions about a child and his/her future.  When a person has the opportunity to do what she thinks is best for her child, and the means to accomplish it- she takes it. Every time. In whatever facets of life that means to her.  

Perhaps this is the reality check we all needed.  To start being more mindful about how we are parenting.  More considerate of others as we make decisions.  Maybe this allows us to see more clearly the chasm-like disparity in opportunity and fairness in our society that we already knew existed.  Maybe, we can start to wonder what we can do to change it.