Sen. Sean Tindell's personal story closes deal on parental rights

Sen. Sean Tindell of Gulfport has been in the Mississippi Senate since 2012.
Sen. Sean Tindell of Gulfport has been in the Mississippi Senate since 2012. ASSOCIATED PRESS

I often point out the goofiness that happens in Jackson. That's the easy part of the job.

But there are serious times and complex issues -- far more serious and complex than the Tribes of Israel fleeing the state in search of lottery tickets -- that tax my skills.

And there are days when I have to wonder if I could do their job. And there days when I'm lucky. Some days there are both. Wednesday, for example, I just happened to be watching as the debate over a bill that allow courts to terminate parental rights began. A touchy subject for certain.

And Sen. Sean Tindell of Gulfport was handling the bill, telling his colleagues there were no special interests involved, no lobbyists, no free dinners. It was enough to make me tune it out.

But then he began explaining bad situations children could find themselves in with no way out. Then he started talking about a special case, and I'll let him take it from here:

"I can tell you one more situation. This is ... There was a lady. Her husband, she was pregnant with a child, beat her. Threw her out of the house. She slept in the woods while she was pregnant with that child. Now he was drunk and in a rampage."

And there was a long pause.

"That was my mom. And that was my father. And make no mistake. I love my daddy. He was a Vietnam veteran. He came back with a lot of problems. One of which was severe alcoholism.

"I wish I could tell you right now that the only issue I ever had was he was an alcoholic. But there was more to it. And I understand that we want to try to rehabilitate parents and give them a chance. And I understand that parental rights are important.

"But when I told you earlier that I was one saint of a mother away from never even having an opportunity to set foot in this capitol, much less in the position I am in. I had a great mother. And God forbid if anything had ever happened to her. I don't know what would have happened to me. Because I don't know that my father's parental rights could have been terminated. I loved my dad and he loved me. But he couldn't care for me. And I would have been a disaster.

"And what I'm asking you to do is vote for this bill and give those children a chance. Just like I was given an opportunity by people around me who loved me and cared about me.

"If you think it would have just stopped with me ... If I would have been with my father and I probably would have been just like him. And I probably would have drank too much. And I probably would have hit my children and hit my wife.

"But the cycle was broken because people cared. And you might get an email here or there from somebody talking about taking away their children because they're getting spanked -- I'm telling you we don't have time to worry about that. Cause there are a lot of other children that need this bill. That need the protection and need an opportunity for a better life.

"I travel home during the week every week to coach my son's baseball team. I travel three hours to coach a Little League baseball team. And some people think I'm crazy for doing that. But I don't think I'm crazy.

"And this past weekend I was throwing the baseball with my son and found myself getting frustrated and started yelling at him to the point he started crying.

"So when I got up here Monday, I called him. And said, 'Son, I'm sorry. I shouldn't yell at you like that. My dad was hard on me and sometimes I just do those same things.'

"And part of this is breaking those cycles. You want to improve this state, break the cycle of abuse, get the kids out of that environment. And give them a chance at a better life.

"I've heard a lot of talk about parental rights. Think about the rights of those children and their children. Because it will go on for generation after generation after generation after generation if we don't break the cycle.

"I urge you to vote for the bill."

And it passed.

If you are a parent, chances are you have had a Sean Tindell moment with your boy or girl. You want the best for them, even if you don't know what it that is. Sean Tindell, it seems, wants the same for his kids -- and some children who are complete strangers as well.

And for that he has my respect.