Rielle Hunter: Daughter Dearest, Mommy Dearest


It’s a well-known fact of life: parents exist to embarrass their kids. This red-faced phenomenon peaks in middle school leading to all those desperate pleas to imitate wallpaper. The mere presence of a parent is enough to humiliate a child, but what happens when that parent pens a tell-all documenting an illicit affair with a presidential candidate? Frances Quinn, the love child of disgraced former Senator John Edwards and Rielle Hunter, is not yet in kindergarten, unaware of the firestorm that rages around her. It’s too soon to predict how this innocent child will be affected by the actions of the selfish adults who should be concerned for her well being. What we do know, however, is that she will forever have to live with the story of how she came into this world.

Hunter claims that she wrote the book for her daughter, to explain her love affair with Edwards. There are some stories that need to be told. What Really Happened is not one of them. Major publishers agreed. After shopping the book around and piling up a record number of rejections from mainstream houses, the boutique BenBella in Dallas took on the project. Even though the book is scheduled for release on June 26, the book is not displayed on the BenBella website, nor is Hunter listed as one of its authors. Playing it down? Second thoughts?

Hunter’s efforts to stretch out her 15 minutes of fame are not being met with approval. Sections of the book that have been leaked, obviously by Hunter herself, are eliciting an “ick” factor on numerous websites:

A trashy lady. Think of kids. NeverTalk about what you do in the sheets, tacky

Quinn is nothing but a meal ticket for you and one day she is going to grow up and realize that her mother is the scum of the earth.

These are the only ones we can print on our site. The visceral reaction no doubt comes from the details about her sex life with Edwards:

And then a moment came while we were talking when something in my heart clicked and I surrendered. I took off my teacher hat, let go of all my resistance to him and let him lead. And lead he did. He led me toward the most extraordinary night of my life. There was a lot of talk, a lot of laughter and zero sleep.

Bulletin: The only thing that a kid finds more embarrassing than a parent’s presence is the thought of that parent having sex. (For as long as possible, kids cling to the idea that they were delivered by the stork). Having the whole world know about a parent’s sex life is even worse. Hunter has doomed her child to a lifetime of teasing and ridicule.

During her 20/20 interview with ABC’s Chris Cuomo, Hunter said that “you do stupid things when you’re in love.” Stupid is not the correct description. Hunter had an affair with a man seeking the highest office in our country, someone many people worked for, contributed to, and voted for. Their affair not only doomed his presidential campaign but disappointed the many workers—paid and unpaid—who believed in his campaign promises. On the positive side, she may have saved the country from another philandering president. Still, she will have to explain to Quinn how she allowed her own needs to supplant those of so many others.

She also had an affair with a man whose wife was battling cancer. Elizabeth Edwards may not have been the angel we originally thought her to be. Game Change certainly portrayed her as Lady Macbeth incarnate. But she was Edwards’ wife fighting for survival. We’d love to hear Hunter explain this situation to Quinn. And, sorry. “My wife doesn’t understand me,” just won’t cut it.

She also had an affair with a man who had other children. After his acquittal, Edwards, with his older daughter standing beside him, the older daughter who had been in court with him every day, teared up describing his love for Quinn. Then as an afterthought added: “I love all my children.” Right. Any predictions on future sibling get togethers?

Parenting these days is tough enough. Parents should work to protect children from a toxic culture, not create that environment within their own family. What Really Happened should have been a bedtime story between Rielle and Quinn when she was old enough to understand. Not a book.

Charlene Giannetti is the co-author with Margaret Sagarese of eight books for parents of young adolescents including The Roller-Coast Years and Good Parents, Tough Times.

One Response to Rielle Hunter: Daughter Dearest, Mommy Dearest

  1. Mary Ellen Ostrander says:

    Great job Charlene! I am not sure I am inclined to believe Rielle Hunter’s non-partisan interpretation or reporting of Elizabeth Edwards’ behavior nor do I think anyone else needs to know the humiliation of what a dying woman was put through by her ego centric selfish husband and his mistress.
    I am just a little suspicious that Rielle is busy rewriting history or make a pathetic attempt to justify her actions. I am not sure John, Rielle will rise to a level of consciousness that they are capable of thinking about anyone else but themselves. Thank you Charlene, for the thought provoking piece. meo

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