As any parent can tell you, the moment your first child is handed to you, time freezes and life irreconcilably changes. There is no going back to life before children. Almost no parent would want to, given the option.
Over Father’s Day Oliver Hudson, Kate Hudson’s brother, posted a direct slap in the face to his father, Bill Hudson, on Instagram. A decades-old photo of the threesome was captioned “Happy abandonment day… @KateHudson”
Predictably there’s a great deal of back and forth about who is to blame for the estrangement. Bill puts the lion’s share on his ex-wife Goldie Hawn, who he says “poisoned” his two kids against him when she began her relationship with Kurt Russell. Russell, while not technically married to Hawn, has assumed the role of father in the two Hudsons’ lives, as evidenced by an affectionate post from Kate on Instagram on the same Father’s Day.
Bill Hudson in turn gave a scathing interview to the Daily Mail disowning the pair. He told the Mail,
“I say to them now, ‘I set you free,'” he pronounced, his voice breaking. “I had five birth children but I now consider myself a father of three. I no longer recognise Oliver and Kate as my own.
“I would ask them to stop using the Hudson name. They are no longer a part of my life. Oliver’s Instagram post was a malicious, vicious, premeditated attack. He is dead to me now. As is Kate. I am mourning their loss even though they are still walking this earth.”
Now, I don’t normally take sides in any familial dispute, celebrity or otherwise, because, as my husband likes to say, “you never know what goes on behind closed doors.” Given the public statements given by all parties here, it’s pretty safe to make some assumptions.
Bill Hudson doesn’t seem to have gotten the message on how parenthood works. It’s not for the faint of heart. Our job as parents is to love, unconditionally, until the day we die. We can only hope to earn that love back from our kids, but there are no guarantees. We raise them the best we can, we shower them with love while instilling with good middos as the Jews say, roughly translated to values or character traits, and hope for the best. Sometimes, even with the best of parents and the best of everything, kids fall by the wayside. Parents, however, are never supposed to.
By posting these (seemingly coordinated) slaps in the face, Oliver and Kate were testing their father. Yes, even adults can test their parents, especially if they have been given reason to doubt them (as it appears they have). This public test resulted in a resounding failure for Bill. A good father, a true father, would have responded by saying: “I’m right here, I didn’t abandon you, and I still love you.”
Abandonment exists in a legal sense, as parenthood exists as a biological tie between a parent and child. Parenthood isn’t a role assumed at conception and birth, it is earned over time with love and selfless caring.
Over the same Father’s Day of this brouhaha I posted my own Instagram tribute. Surprisingly People magazine didn’t pick up the story, so I’ll share it here with you.
This photo was taken on Christmas morning when I was about seven years old. The guy is my step-father, or, more precisely, my dead mom’s ex-husband. They were married during the formative years of my childhood when I was estranged from my own father.
It was he who warned me not to get a rabbit because I wouldn’t take care of it and who, after I got the aforementioned rabbit, took care of it when I, as he predicted, didn’t take care of it. Those are the kinds of things dads do.
From all appearances this is the kind of dad that Kurt Russell has been for Kate and Oliver Hudson.
My message to Bill Hudson is this: it takes more than fathering a child to be a dad. While Bill might have disowned his kids, it’s pretty clear that he stopped being their dad a long time before this year’s Father’s Day feud.