Betty Ford Isn’t a Role Model for My Daughters–Sorry

It’s not just, for me, that the Betty Ford Center has led us down the path of high-price, but meaningless, private 12-step treatment programs.

Nor is it because I don’t comprehend Republicanism – which means never thinking about the good of other people, other than making them do what YOU think is the right thing.

I actually wouldn’t think Betty Ford was genetically a Republican. She was soft-hearted.

But that’s my problem with the Betty Ford model. She was roped into being a Republican, like it seemed she fell into everything else in her life. Her addictions (Valium and fairly low-key levels of alcohol) were a direct result of her seeming to be occupying someone else’s space. She described her discomfort in the limelight of the White House – not the life she imagined or wanted for herself.

Betty Ford harkened back to the suburban housewife of the 1950s – the pre-sixties woman who wasn’t free to have a career and select a destiny.

I know, Betty revealed her addictions so others could share theirs too. (My, that has turned into a cultural phenomenon, hasn’t it?) I know she bared her breast cancer so other sufferers wouldn’t feel alone. But this aspect of her life is just a little too martyr-like for me to find in it a path for others – and particularly young women, like my daughters.

I know, considering Betty Ford (that’s Gerald’s last name, did you know?), who needs me? My only claim to fame on this earth is that I invented myself and my destiny. And I deeply admire people who have done the same for themselves.

So I mourn the death of a nice person who wished nobody harm, and who tried to reach out to other people. But I wouldn’t build a statue to her in the town square.

Stanton Peele

Stanton Peele , recognized as one of the world's leading addiction experts by The Fix, developed the Life Process Program after decades of research, writing, and treatment about and for people with addictions. Dr. Peele is the author of 14 books. His work has been published in leading professional journals and popular publications around the globe.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *