Remember your parents?
I remember mine. After 30 some-odd years, they are still very much in my life, doling out advice, giving support, showering love on their grandchildren and showing pride in their own adult children.
In fact, growing up, I remember my father rarely missing a day of work as a UPS man, a job he treated with a certain work ethic that has rubbed off on me in more positive ways than even his unwavering support of my interests, like wrestling or martial arts.
And he loved watching me play those sports. Win or lose, I could always count on hearing "way to go Mikeeeee" from somewhere up in those stands. Similarly, my mother's quiet wisdom always looms large when I'm confronted with my own decisions today.
But the point is, my parents just didn't support my efforts — they did that, yes — but they also set other, more important examples. They were upstanding people who conducted themselves respectably when I was at my most impressionable.
There were no wild parties, drugs, or anything more than an occasional social drink flying around my purview. My mother didn't dress too provocatively or try to fit in with her daughter's crowd.
What does this have to do with anything? Everything.
Because respect for yourself, your job, your appearance, your public persona, the way you treat your own family, your friends, your career — even the way you drive a car — all come from the way you were brought up.
It's like that John Mayer song "Daughters" says:
Fathers be good to your daughters, Daughters will love like you do, Girls become lovers who turn into mothers, So mothers be good to your daughters too.
That's why the Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears, Nicole Richie and Paris Hilton debacles are so maddening. Somewhere along the line, these kids lost their way, and the only figures in their lives who had the responsibility to set them straight somehow failed them.
Just last week, Michael Lohan, Lindsay's father, was ordered to pay $500 per week child support to his ex-wife, the sad Dina Lohan (we'll get to her later), for their two young children. The couple has four children, including 21-year-old Lindsay.
During court, he told the judge that he worked for God — trying to get a message out to anyone who will listen, and danced around questions about his income since he was released from state prison after serving 20 months for battery and DUI.
All due respect, but last I checked, God doesn't pay very well. At least not with money. But here's what's even more infuriating than having to be ordered by a court to find a job to help support his own children: After the court hearing, Lohan made a point to tell reporters that he wasn't on his daughter's payroll.
Are you kidding me?
Was he suggesting that Lindsay has enough money to support his family? The girl can't support herself with the help of a stripper pole, never mind be responsible for taking care of her siblings?
Clearly, Michael Lohan is such a failed father figure that he's using the premise of spreading God's word to alleviate his guilt, a disingenuous move at best.
At worst, well, you can fill in the blank.
Now, Michael Lohan's shortcomings are a matter of public record. Mother Dina's, on the other hand, are less black and white, but the publicity-hungry matron is certainly not winning any Mother of the Year awards.
Dina's been quoted as saying that she parties with Lindsay, even when the young star was under the legal age to drink, and that "parents can't be responsible for kids."
Huh? OK, even if we give Dina the benefit of the doubt — she was essentially a single mother of four — we're not talking about sex tapes or poor work ethic here. We're talking about illegal activity that could end up in the deaths of innocent people.
Drunk driving or driving while under the influence of narcotics is such a serious issue that these starlets are actually doing jail time. But even the prospect of a few days in the county lockup isn't doing enough to dissuade the abhorrent behavior.
Paris Hilton famously went to jail, was released, and even more famously was sent back to jail, and Lindsay still gets behind the wheel drunk — allegedly, wink-wink.
Why do you think she would risk jail and a felony record?
For starters, it keeps her name in the papers and on the homepages of every major news Web site on the planet, and pretty much guarantees a paycheck — albeit more likely to come from a tabloid for an exclusive interview and pictures than from a major movie studio.
But the most influential figure in her life — her mom — is blaming everybody else for Lindsay's behavior — the media, the paparazzi and her ex, when the real problem for both the Lohan women is right there in the mirror.
Parents everywhere need to look at what's happened to the "cool" crowd in Hollywood. They're all going to jail. And the "cool" girls of the same generation can be spotted on late-night television flashing their breasts and making out with their girlfriends on some smut purveyor's ubiquitous infomercials.
Let's hope that something good comes out of all this bad, and that is that our daughters decide early on that they don't want to end up in jail, or worse.