Writer Daryl Austin has issued an apology in a column for Fox News, saying a trip to Mexico made him question his initial take in a column for USA Today on the Gaines family, whom he does not know. In that column, Austin said the husband and wife team “don’t put family first” while they run multiple businesses. The Gaines family has four young children and a fifth on the way.
Chip Gaines responded on Twitter to the initial column denying the charge and insisting that family always comes first with him and his wife. “I don’t know daryl, & he clearly doesn’t know me,” Chip Gaines tweeted. “But for the record: If there is ever a need w/my family (1st), I’ll shut this circus down so fast it will make your head spin. BUT jo & I believe, w/God anything is possible. Including having an amazing family AND career you love.”
Austin’s USA Today column raised the issue of how the Gaines team can possibly devote enough time to their children, given their multiple business lines. “No matter how rich and famous, we are all limited by the same 24 hours in a day,” Austin wrote. “You cannot do all they’ve done (or even a fraction of it) and still have any real time left over for family. Frankly, I wonder where they even find the time to brush their teeth, let alone spend quality, one-on-one time with each child daily.”
Austin’s apology column blamed his own perspective and experiences as a parent for his misread of the situation. A recent trip to Mexico, where he saw a mother working on Mother’s Day and children scavenging through trash on the side of the road changed his mind. He claims that seeing that made him realize that “many children all over the world were suffering even more” than the Gaines family may be, and “how lucky any of those kids without parents would feel to have a mother and father like Chip and Joanna Gaines.”
“I don’t know them personally, but I suspect they really are terrific parents,” Austin wrote. “I’ve never said or thought otherwise. And just because Chip Gaines chooses to spend his time differently than I do doesn’t make him any less of a father. Mine was a flawed argument that projected my if/then belief system onto another family. My intention was to start a conversation about what it actually means to put family first, but my means of doing so were way off course. If our society is ever going to have the conversations we need to be having, judging and shaming one another is a terrible place to begin, especially when there are so many more serious concerns that need addressing.”
The Gaines family has yet to respond to the apology. HGTV is currently airing 13 episodes of Fixer Upper produced last year, following the Gaines family decision not to continue with the series.