By Todd McFliker
Fast forward 20 years to Sam Woods as a 23-year-old young woman and little Charlie Woods approaching his 22nd birthday. Of all the events they will face over the approaching two decades of their young lives, the most impactful will likely be today’s announced divorce of their parents, Elin and Tiger Woods. Elin tellingly petitioned the Bay County Court to restore her maiden name, Nordegren.
While Sam and Charlie are likely to grow up with vast resources as a result of Tiger’s success on the golf course, the quality of their lives is much more likely to reflect Tiger and Elin’s parenting skills, emotional maturity, and ability to make good on their mutual, public pronouncements of abiding love for their children.
Exceptional athletic skills and net worth do not make two people great parents. In fact, couples with the greatest financial resources often have greater difficulty navigating the very real challenges of intimacy and family building.
“Couples facing crisis need the time and privacy to turn towards each other, learn from, and grow individually and as a family,” says Seth Eisenberg, president of the nonprofit PAIRS Foundation, an industry leader in marriage education.
From the moment the Woods’ marriage hit the rocks and national headlines, the family has struggled to find time beyond the glare of global paparazzi and pundits. While Tiger reportedly disappeared for nearly two months of intensive treatment for sex addiction, today’s divorce filing suggests the program was either too little or too late to save the foundation of his children’s lives.
Ironically, perhaps tragically, many of the same qualities that propel athletes, politicians, and others to stardom can become the Achilles’ heal that destroys much more sought after aspirations.
“At the heart of many superstars is the underlying belief that they’re not loveable or good enough – that somehow who they are is the reflection of their latest achievements. While that belief may inspire thousands of hours of practice, it can lead to terrible loneliness even when surrounded by adoring fans,” Eisenberg states. “An unhealthy addiction to validation, whether from sexploits, birdies, homeruns, or three-pointers, can become the foundation for profound suffering – both for the victim and those they most love.”
When children lose the foundation of their lives – the stability of their family – they have a tougher time succeeding in school and life, often winding up in trouble.
While Tiger and Elin’s thoughtfully crafted statements show meaningful, positive intentions towards Sam and Charlie, it will be their actions towards each other and their children over the months and years ahead that will speak loudest.
As many have said, the public destruction of Elin and Tiger Woods’ marriage is sad and tragic. It’s especially sad for their children that parents with such exceptional talents and resources couldn’t get the help that would have allowed them to preserve the foundation of their lives.