Good Parenting Shines Through in Chelsea Clinton's Wedding

Friday, 30 Jul 2010 10:05 AM

By Susan Estrich

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No, I wasn't invited. I shouldn't be. I'm a friend of her parents. They aren't getting married. She is. The rule that invited guests should have a personal relationship with the bride or the groom is only the latest example of how good the Clintons (and the Mezvinskys) have been at the most important job in the world: being parents.

I have, sadly, been to plenty of weddings where the only way I knew the bride was by the dress. I have always felt silly in such situations (unless I knew the groom). What was I doing there? Whose party was it?

I don't care how much the cake cost. I don't care how much any of it cost or who paid or why. I don't care who made the list. This is not a political event. It's not a state dinner or anything close to that. It's the wedding of two pretty terrific young people. That's enough.

Anyone who has raised a child knows that there are no guarantees. You can try your best, but there's no instruction manual, and there are no sure things.

Still, there are things that make it more difficult — for parents and children. Fame and too much money are among them. TMM, we call it out here. When you see kids who have no values, who don't understand what matters and what doesn't, who are spoiled and silly, the first thing you think is TMM. Or too much fame.

The Clintons didn't have so much money when Chelsea was growing up, but fame and fancy friends certainly made up for it. There was no place they couldn't go, nothing they couldn't do or have. They made their share of mistakes.

But Chelsea wasn't one of them.

From the first time I hung out with Bill Clinton, back when he was just the governor of a small state — not nothing, certainly, but also not what he became — his face changed when he talked about his daughter.

She was a little girl then, and he would tell me about taking her to school, being the room parent and just how much he loved her. I didn't have kids at the time, but I got it. Whatever his flaws, and God knows he had them, and so do all of us, he got it.

So did Hillary. Over eight sometimes difficult years in the White House, they were also parents. They made clear that she was their beloved daughter, not a prop.

When she so famously crossed the White House lawn with one hand holding that of each parent, we saw not the most powerful people in the world, but a family fighting to stay together, and the girl in the middle fighting just as hard as either of them.

She picked a college 3,000 miles away. She chose to be her own person, to live privately, to stay out of the limelight.

She went from being an awkward teenager to a beautiful young woman.

She stood up for her mother in her campaign with pride and eloquence.

We watched her grow up from the distance, which is where we belonged.

This is her special weekend. The cake may be fancier, the guests a little more recognizable, and the security certainly tighter. But in the ways that count most, it is not so different from the special day of thousands of other young men and women who will say their "I dos" this weekend.

It is that very similarity, the normalcy, the fact that she will be surrounded by her friends and his friends — not her parents' big donors or fancy supporters — that is the ultimate testament to what matters most.

© Creators Syndicate Inc.

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