Image: Getty

Everyone makes mistakes. For instance, you might mistakenly write an entire column about how Chip and Joanna Gaines can’t possibly be good parents for USA Today, like writer Daryl Austin did, and then have to publicly apologize. It happens.

In Austin’s original article, he wrote that, “Chip and Joanna Gaines did not get where they are by putting their family first.” Here’s the crux of his thesis:

No matter how rich and famous, we are all limited by the same 24 hours in a day. 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. 

Why would Austin be breaking down how the Gaines family balances work and home life? Because putting “family first” is a part of their public persona and ostensibly the reason they left their extremely successful show. It is also true that since leaving Fixer Upper, they’ve opened yet more businesses. But does it really follow that they are shitty parents?

It did, until Austin saw the light and apologized. Following this tweet:

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In an article on Sunday for Fox News, titled “Chip and Joanna Gaines, I’m sorry I slammed your family values — Please accept my apology,” Austin writes he was upset because many parents have to work hard to support their kids, and Chip and Joanna Gaines could just kick back and spend every waking moment staring into their kid’s eyes if they wanted to. Despite the pushback, he wasn’t swayed from his opinion until he traveled to Mexico on Mother’s Day, and took his family on a tour bus:

As we saw a group of young children digging through piles of trash, my 7-year old looked up at me with tears in her eyes and asked: “Where are their moms and dads?”

Suddenly the parenting choices of two well-meaning American parents paled in comparison. Especially because as bad as it seemed to be for some of the children I witnessed in Mexico, I knew in that moment that many children all over the world were suffering even more.

I smiled as I realized 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. 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. 

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What a journey.