- The Washington Times - Friday, July 28, 2000

Good mothers and fathers don't ask for rewards. They just want to see their children grow up into contented, responsible adults.

But one group of peerless parents basked in adulation Wednesday as part of the 2000 Parents of the Year honors.

The celebratory reception, held at the Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill, was sponsored by the Parents' Day Council, a project of The Washington Times Foundation (which is a separate institution from the newspaper).

The event seemed like a family reunion, with dozens of children squeezing around the buffet table to wolf down sandwiches and other fist-size treats. Some wore the mildly rebellious cliche of today's teen the backward baseball caps and bleached hair that are so MTV.

Hey, these children are good, not perfect.

But when their honored parents took up the microphone to share their stories, flanked by their local congressmen, the teens quieted down to pay proper respect.

For the first time in its six-year history, the council selected two sets of parents for the award.

Co-winner Cheryl Carnwath of Arnold, Md., said the honor came as a surprise to her and her husband, John.

"It's a different position to be in. We're so used to serving other people," Mrs. Carnwath said, beaming. In 1992, the Carnwaths started Camp Blaze in Anne Arundel County to offer workshops for parents needing help with child-rearing problems.

Co-winner Ann Coleman of Lincoln, Neb., said she and her husband, Don, made sure their five children and 18 grandchildren knew where they stood on things that matter most.

"They know our values, who we are and what we stand for," Mrs. Coleman said.

The nonpartisan council also honored Stanley and Phyllis Rosenbluth of Arlington, who turned the murders of their son and daughter-in-law into a crusade for victims rights.

Among the members of Congress on hand to congratulate their constituents were Reps. James P. Moran, Elijah E. Cummings and Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. Sens. Charles S. Robb, Chuck Hagel and Bob Kerrey also were there, as was House Majority Whip Tom DeLay.

Mr. Kerrey needled Mr. Hagel as "vice president" before his remarks: Mr. Hagel was one of the top contenders for the No. 2 spot on the Republican ticket before Richard B. Cheney was chosen. Mr. Kerrey, of course, has generated his own buzz for the same job in Democratic circles.

Gary Jarmin, project director of the Parents' Day Council, said events such as Parents' Day, held on the fourth Sunday in July, can have a genuine impact on society's respect for diligent parenting.

As far as the effects of poor parenting are concerned, Mr. Jarmin said, "People are recognizing that the social-science evidence is in and that it is irrefutable."

Mr. Moran noted that honoring good parents sends the right message about the importance of family. As a legislator, however, he said there is only so much he can do to encourage such selfless behavior. "You can't legislate good parenting. There's nothing we can do other than being a decent example for others."

Mayor Anthony A. Williams, who stopped by to honor D.C. Parents of the Year Byron and Ingra Lewis, agreed.

"It's inescapable. It's part of the job," Mr. Williams said.

The mayor, who was abandoned as a baby and later adopted, spoke with passion about the importance of the family. "I wouldn't be here today but for loving parents," Mr. Williams said.

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