This is a very personal family matter. With all the darkness, violence, conflict and trauma in the world today, it’s stunning that the news media would focus in on a personal family matter and exploit sensationally for a little titillation. But it is what it is. This is an emotional topic for me – not one I was prepared to deal with publicly. But here are my thoughts and feelings as I balance the privacy of my family, my concern and love I have for my daughter and the curiosity of the public over the latest “entertainment” story.
I would ask for the prayers of your readers that God takes charge of this situation for the best interests of all concerned.
The headline in Us Magazine reads, “Steven Bauer, 57, Dating 18-Year-Old Girlfriend Lyda Loudon.” The story has since gone viral, spreading to London’s Daily Mail, the New York Daily News, Australia’s Herald Sun, In Touch Weekly and other entertainment news outlets.
I was sitting next to my daughter out on the patio of a steak restaurant and surrounded by L.A. friends when someone texted me the first headline.
I turned to Lyda and cried. We held each other, and our friends, all too familiar with how these gossip magazines function. This would not be an easy week. But it would be clarifying. We had known this day was coming for a while. By God’s grace, I was by my daughter’s side when it happened.
It would be interesting to see how “tolerant” the left is when the woman in question isn’t one of them. It would be interesting to see the “Christian compassion” of the right when it came to this story as well.
Lyda has always been one of the most honest, straightforward people I have ever known. So when I became aware of the relationship, the range of emotions for me was strange and still is, but I can tell you one thing: We love our daughter.
We have never had a concerned moment with Lyda. She will tell you that she is far from perfect, but she does not drink (despite tabloid reports) or do drugs. She is committed to waiting until she is married to have sex. She is so committed to virginity that she gave her little sister a purity ring for her birthday, and I sat in awe as I listened to the wisdom of this big sister speak. She has a wicked sense of humor, a great love of family and God, and she has us laughing most of the time with her politically incorrect hilarity. This made it hard to impugn this daughter, who has only ever loved us and made smart choices, for her choices in love.
She was always a little headstrong, and she liked to do things in her own way. Many adults she encountered in her life commented that she was an “old soul.” I saw it, too. I don’t believe in reincarnation, but I have to admit that I saw this maturity in her from the time she was a baby. She launched several efforts to challenge millennials to take responsibility for their country, and she speaks, writes and consults about it to this day. While just 18, she is not like the 18-year-olds the gossip magazines are used to seeing.
My husband asked, “Why can’t she find a nice millennial boy?” He almost laughed at himself for asking the question. While there are certainly exceptions, career-minded, committed patriots who are equally yoked with Lyda Loudon are rare. She has had many suitors, but she has entertained few. She is challenged by her generation and has taken ownership to do something about it.
Her brutal honesty manifested itself one day with a truth that sent me reeling. She was dating a much older man who (I told myself) was attractive to her as a similarly committed patriot (the son of Cuban refugees) and a source of acting guidance and good conversation.
First I panicked and told her not to tell her daddy. This would be very, very difficult for him to understand. But we don’t really keep secrets well in our family, and I found myself telling my husband, my mother, my father and my closest friends. I was right. My husband was devastated. He questioned his own parenting, and I questioned mine. What had we done to our precious daughter to make her think such a decision was wise?
When parents are confronted with information like this about their adult child, they have essentially two choices:
1) Reject your child, and lose them.
2) Try to find a way to understand them, and love them through the process.
Our friends wouldn’t understand. Our families wouldn’t understand. We, ourselves, might never understand. We would lose friends over it. I could lose my job. Tabloids would smell the blood in the water and our daughter would be fodder. The black paparazzi SUVs would follow her, and her days of the somewhat private life would end – something she has never wanted. We wanted to hide, and to hide her, so this would go away somehow.
Then there is Lyda. She is still the headstrong daughter we’ve always known. She is nobody’s filly. She is still the loving daughter and “Daddy’s Girl” who wanted to find some way to make this pleasing to us. She is still the sensitive sibling who wanted to spare her family the ordeal of being slammed for this. She is still our daughter.
I told myself, there are worse things. She could be an addict or a bad person. She could be in rebellion against us or living carelessly. She isn’t. She just happened to fall for a guy who is much older. He fell for her, too. I tried to focus on one thing: My job is to love my daughter.
She was 18. He was 57.
I watched as my husband tried to smile, but his face reflected doubt and consternation. We sought advice from our pastor, our family and our closest friends. We sought advice from lawyers and publicity agents. Ultimately, for me, it all came down to one thing. I had one job to do, one thing that mattered more than anything else: loving my daughter.
But then I started to think about 10 years from now, and 20, and 30. I started to think about grandchildren, and her being a young widow (a concept she is well aware of and terrified of), and her doing all of this alone. I knew she appreciated the privacy of anonymity that would vanish overnight. I asked myself why Mr. Bauer did not walk the moment he realized where all of this was going. I grieved the young couple that I had envisioned we would bless at the front of the wedding aisle all of these years. I was concerned that Steven had three failed marriages. My heart broke for my husband, who simply had no ability to deal with this. He was broken, and it was horrible to watch.
We were concerned that our silence was complicity, and we opted to take the hard road. We told her if she was going to do this, she would be on her own. We would not support her, and we wanted her to keep us out of it. I told her we would be there when it all went public but that we wanted no part in condoning what we thought would ultimately be a painful journey for her. We let her know of our dismay and hurt, and we asked him to do the right thing (in our opinion) and move on. I posted the lyrics to “Bright Lights” by Matchbox Twenty on my Facebook wall and hoped she would come home.
I didn’t know there was worse pain than we were already experiencing until that moment.
It was unbearable. Now we had pushed our daughter away and lost her. We would have to watch like an audience as all of this went down.
N000000! I felt myself scream from the core of my being. There was no way in hell I was letting her go. She has lived all of her 18 years in love with us. She has lived every moment as a responsible, accountable person. She has remained (and remains) pure until marriage, and if she found something so meaningful in this man, then I wanted to know him.
I used a trip on an airplane from my work in New York to California to watch his entire new series. It was good. I started to meet them for lunches and dinners, and I tried to talk to him and get to know this man my daughter loved. I began to try to understand.
Today I find myself thankful – thankful for the real friends we have who have surrounded our family with love and support during this time, thankful for a husband who loves us enough to try to accept what is hardest for him and thankful for a God who, strangely, prepared our family well for this day. A life in politics and the spotlight of media, time on reality television with the ensuing tabloid pursuits: We had tools that others might not have to equip us for this ride.
Other mothers today stand over caskets or hospital beds of their drug-addicted children. Other mothers mourn the relationships they’ve lost with their daughters. Other mothers have to face hellish choices their daughters have made. Me? I have to face the fact that my daughter chose to love someone older. Challenging? Yes. Impossible? Not at all.
My daughter’s choice has challenged me. In perspective, this was a choice regarding love. She did not choose to break the law, harm an innocent or betray our country. Several friends asked us to consider whether love really is a choice. Others beseeched us to embrace that she found a special love with a special, gentle man. These were defining questions.
This very morning, I found myself upset because a close friend of mine had asked another friend if the story was true, instead of coming directly to me. My husband, my rock, again wisely grounded me by saying, “Be patient with our friends, Gina. It took us months to get our head around this. You cannot expect people to just suddenly understand. We didn’t.” That’s true. But let me say that we are so very thankful for the outpouring of support we have felt from those who jumped in to support us before they even had a chance to get their heads around it.
We all grow and make decisions that we have to learn from on the journey of life. Lyda is still one of the smartest and strongest people I have ever known. I have no doubt that she will live and learn and come out better for all of this, ultimately. While so much has changed, the important things have not. Lyda is still our daughter and has always been my favorite person to laugh with and hang with. I am pretty sure she would tell you the same about me.
She spent the weekend thanking us and apologizing for the impact this has had on our family, friends and work. I gave her final edit on this piece, and she wants you to know we are closer than ever. Just now, my friend shouted across the room, “Hey, there is a poll: ‘Is Lyda Loudon too young to date Steven Bauer?’ Want me to vote?”
“Vote yes!” Lyda shouted from across the room. Her sense of humor remains fully intact. I am thankful for a daughter who has always loved us, and we stand with her now.