As a father, Kavanaugh screwed up

Jay Stooksberry
Oct 2, 2018 · 4 min read

Parents screw up. I do it quite often in fact.

But in the history of parenting mistakes, Brett Kavanaugh deserves to be memorialized.

Before facing Congress, Kavanaugh provided insight as to who he was as a young man. This was a portrait of a young man who abstained from sex both during his high school and college years, who enjoyed a beer on occasion but never in excess, and who treated all women with respect. Between football and church, this young man most certainly didn’t have any time for any tomfoolery.

Or, at least, this was the image that Kavanaugh wanted you to envision. New details of “Bart” (Brett’s nickname as a young adult) began to emerge — details that suggested that he was probably not the choir boy that he tried to portray.

But did Kavanaugh admit that he might have fibbed? Nope. He doubled-down.

The treasurer of “Keg City Club” outright denied drinking to the point of blacking out. When pressed to de-code his yearbook, he told Congress that “Devil’s triangle” — an obvious sexual deed — was a drinking game involving “three glasses in a triangle.”


These are lies that you tell your parents when you are caught red-handed. We have all been there. We thought that our parents wouldn’t notice the smell of booze or smoke on our breath. We thought that mom and dad were too dumb to figure everything out.

But your parents aren’t dumb, because they used to do the exact same thing.

I know I did.

Like Kavanaugh, I had my fair share of youthful indiscretions. I admit that I was a wild child with a checkered past — one involving substance abuse, an arrest record, and a trail of destructive behavior.

Did I sexually assault anybody? No. However, I too have been blackout drunk depriving me of a perfect recollection of my youth. So even if I “know” that I have not committed such a horrendous act, my inebriation certainly placed me into unsavory situations where the clarity of my intentions might not be so crystal clear. Categorical denials are hard to find at the bottom of a whiskey bottle.

If similarly accused — backed by compelling testimony similar to Christine Blasey Ford — I would understand that a certain degree of skepticism would be warranted. Even if innocent, I certainly made a strong enough impression on this woman that she sees me as a sexual predator. This could mean that I associated with people who were guilty of such atrocious behavior, and I was either jaw-droppingly ignorant or silently complicit about what was going on around me — neither of which are admirable traits.

Even if I didn’t do anything, I certainly did something.

My youthful mistakes are behind me now. I can pass a drug test with no warning, and enough time has passed that my record can be expunged. All in all, I live a pretty boring yet fulfilling life. I have a family, a job, a mortgage, and every other mundane adult responsibility that you can think of.

Most importantly, I have a son with whom I want to be completely honest. I do so with the hope that he will reciprocate. If I expect him to take responsibility for his actions, then it is incumbent upon me to lead by example. My job as a parent is not to whitewash my past, but rather to own my mistakes and demonstrate how I matured.

And that’s where he screwed up as a parent. Even if he walked back his comments with his children in the privacy of his home, Kavanaugh still demonstrated that it is ok to lie so long as the lie empowers you to get what you want — not a great life lesson.

The issue here is not about drinking or being sexually active at a young age. If we held everybody accountable for every bottle of booze pilfered from a liquor cabinet or every condom wrapper found during laundry day, then we probably wouldn’t have enough people to run our government.

The issue here is about how we as adults atone for the sins of our youth. Kavanaugh should have just admitted he was a “Bart.” Instead, he dug his heels into the sand and pretended that he was a “Brett” all along.

I make no claims about Kavanaugh as a Supreme Court justice. Nor can I really say anything all-encompassing as a parent, because — as mentioned before — parenting is an imperfect science. But in that particular moment, where expediency trumped responsibility, Kavanaugh screwed up as a parent.

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