To Mike Rinder: We, Taryn and Ben, wish we could start this open letter like one of those touching tributes penned by siblings who know they would not be who they are without their dad. One that tells their father how much his unwavering love, support and understanding meant to them. Unfortunately, this isn’t one of those letters.
You, Mike Rinder, are not “Dad,” or “Father,” to either of us, Taryn or Ben. Dads earn the title. They value, respect, support, and most importantly, love their children. You didn’t do any of that, whatsoever. You were not our father. You weren’t a father to us when you name-called us as children, fat-shamed me, your daughter, belittled the way we dressed, denigrated our interests, and slept rather than spend even an hour of time with us. Nearly every olive branch we extended, you cut off: you hung up on us when we called, ignored us when we showed up at your office, and broke the promises you made to spend time with us. You just didn’t care. For a long time we thought we had done something to make you dislike us. Forgive us, we were young. Eventually we independently came to the right conclusion that it was you. You were cold, arrogant and disinterested—not only in us, your own children, but in other people. So, no. You were never a real father to us. Let’s bring it to the present—you aren’t a real father when you try to exploit your own children to sell your hate-filled book. And that’s exactly what you’re doing. So let’s address that. First, we reject the letter you address to us in your book. It is not sincere, genuine or true. We honestly wondered if your editor made you write it to give you a touch of humanity. But let’s be real, you never cared before—so don’t pretend you have any love for us now. You’ve proven that you don’t, over and over. Your distortions of how we were raised are further proof of that—what you have written is not the reality of our lives. You’ve taken kernels of truth and wrapped them in fabrications. You make a claim that you and Mom were “preoccupied” and didn’t raise us—that is a complete invention. Mom was there for us at every point in our lives. You weren’t and that’s the truth.
But, possibly you got so much wrong because you’re writing about something you knew nothing of—us, your children. I guess you didn’t know I, Taryn, went to public school—for years? Or that I, Ben, didn’t move to Florida until four years later than you write? Petty points? Maybe. But a real father would know these details. And out of all the major life events you write about, there’s one, in particular, you shockingly didn’t mention: The time I, your daughter, almost died. Remember... when I was seven years old I was hit by a car in a double hit-and-run that left me torn, bloodied and broken? And hospitalized for weeks? Or the fact I had a severely broken leg, a fractured skull, multiple deep gashes, burns and two sprained arms? Perhaps I should forgive you for not remembering this. You weren’t there. Mom was. Never you, although you could have been if you’d cared. Then there are your inventions. BEN’S CANCER: You write that you rushed to the Fort Harrison to see me, Ben, “the moment” you learned I had cancer. Except, I learned later, you were told by your local newspaper—and they even published the fact, twice—almost a year earlier. Then, in 2010, when I was sitting in the sauna—recovering from two years of pretty harsh cancer treatments that saved my life—I was frankly shocked to have the Police walk in to tell me you were outside demanding to see me. I knew there was no way you were interested in me, your son. I didn’t buy it. You had so many chances to visit—you lived only a few miles away—and never once reached out before. So why were you here now, with a camera? That’s when I—yes, me—made the decision to not see you. I knew you were up to no good. And I was right, as you proved when you said you now have “evidence” for the media. How is using your own son’s cancer to save your “reputation” showing love? It’s not. You didn’t give a damn about me. YOUR DESERTION: You say your abandonment of our family, with no discussion or notice, was done with the full intention of contacting us once you left. But you didn’t, did you? Not once. You rudely and dispassionately wrote to an associate of Mom’s to ask for your stuff, and as an aside, demanded mom join you in your usual arrogant manner. You didn’t mention either of us (Taryn and Ben), the children you proclaim to love and who you insincerely dedicate your book to. You made your choice and we all moved on with our lives. That course was only altered when you just had to attack everything we, your family, believes in. But you don’t mention that part of the story, do you?
ASSAULTING OUR MOTHER: You physically assaulted our mom, your then wife. I, Taryn, was there and saw you do it. This, I just can’t forgive. And yet you dare to state mom’s arm was “grazed” and that I “claim” assault and have made up “lurid” details. I saw the blood. I saw how much you hurt her. She was permanently damaged and it is I who have cared for her. I’ve also had to personally deal with your constant victim shaming and false accusations of her being a “liar”—your actions are shameful and evil. But the abuse and deception goes on: in the same breath that you profess your love for us, you call us, your kids, “brainwashed,” “puppets,” “POW slaves,” a “cog in a wheel,” a “specimen,” and more. Real dads don’t call their kids any of these things, and certainly not publicly. A real dad also doesn’t egg on vicious and often mentally damaged people to attack his daughter. But you’ve done that a lot, haven’t you? Ridicule is something you’ve always been good at. The only thing you got right in your book is that you were a bad father. Except, like everything else, you blame others. Like most bad fathers, wife abusers and irresponsible husbands, it’s always someone else’s fault. But we know the truth. We know you will try to toss off what we have written with the convenient claim that we are “puppets,” and did not write this ourselves. Unfortunately, that is the arrogance and denigration we remember you treating us with throughout our lives, and which you sadly have refused to change. And by the way, a real father does not make the rejection and denunciation of their religion a condition for reuniting with his children. You are just as denigrating of “free will” as you accuse others of being. Have you thought about that? So no, we don’t want your letter, nor do we want the “memoir” you claim you wrote for us or any of the lies within it. It’s self-serving and all about you. Stop telling lies about us, your family, our friends and our beliefs. You have proven what your real intentions are and they’re not good. We want nothing to do with you.