• What It’s Like to be Mike Rinder’s Daughter

    Instead of the fairytale life with the loving father she wanted, Rinder’s daughter grew up feeling she “wasn’t good enough and was rejected”
    Taryn Rinder, Southern California, 1991
    Mike Rinder, 1988
    Taryn, Southern California, ca. 1991; inset: Mike Rinder

    I have sometimes been asked: What was it like growing up as Mike Rinder’s child? Wow! I don’t know where to start on this very demoralizing tale—a story that does not have a happy ending.

    Some modifiers that come to mind immediately are: painful, maddening, hurtful, embarrassing, cold, lonely, deserted, unrequited, damaging and selfish.

    I was a girly girl who loved her daddy. I had the dream that every little girl does, of the perfect family with a loving relationship with your parents. The one where your father cherishes the very ground that you walk on and does everything in his power to support you.

    Taryn at Los Angeles Zoo, ca. 1986
    Taryn at Los Angeles Zoo, ca. 1986

    But I discovered some time ago—these dreams, feelings and ideas were only in my mind, not my father’s. These were not to come true. They were not even in the cards for me, having a father who did not share these same ideas.

    I would call what ended up being our father/daughter relationship abusive—abusive in insidious ways. Child abuse can take many forms. It can be in the form of violence, neglect or years of ridiculing comments from a loveless parent who believes his children can do nothing right. Mike Rinder is all of the above. He is a cold-hearted man and he was cold-hearted to me, my brother Ben and my mom.

    The stories I have to tell, though some may seem small, had a profound effect on me as a child. It showed me from an early age his lack of care, attention and love. And this has grown into an even more abusive relationship on my father’s part, with him continuing to attack and harass me and my family—and then deny he does it.

    But, first let’s start with what I can remember as the beginning, my own life-threatening hit-and-run car accident at age eight.

    I was mid crossing the street…​when a car zoomed around the corner. The driver…hit me hard, dragging me down the road and running over me.

    It was a hot summer day in LA. I was appropriately wearing sandals and a romper with spaghetti straps and short-shorts. I was mid crossing the street at a clearly marked crosswalk, when a car zoomed around the corner. The driver, whom the police were chasing, hit me hard, dragging me down the road and running over me. My injuries were major: a fractured skull, a broken leg with the bone sticking out of the skin, sprained arms and hands and a good amount of skin gone due to road burn.

    The injuries were such that I spent quite some time in the hospital and many more months recovering. I could not go back to school for a year due to the damage.

    As you can imagine, my life was a physical living hell. I was on morphine 24/7—causing me nightmares and hallucinations. My head was swollen and I had stitches and a bandage around it. I had braces on both my arms and hands, to keep them still so they could heal. My leg was held immobile until it was healed enough for a cast. And the worst of the worst were the burns. The necessary burn treatment was an 11 out of 10 on the pain scale. That paints a pretty good, if unpleasant, picture, I think.

    The crux of this story is that in my memories of the accident and subsequent recovery period, there are none with my dad. None. I have tried to think of any time I remember seeing him or even just a time I knew he was there, and no matter how I try, I can’t—because there are no such memories to be had.

    My mom stayed with me night and day until I was better. I would wake up in the night screaming, and my mom was there. My father, Mike Rinder, was never there. He didn’t care.

    The lack of care from my father left me feeling…​that I had done something wrong, but I didn’t know what. Other kids would ask me, “Where is your dad?” And I would just cry.

    If this doesn’t show the type of father and man that he is, I will go on.

    Mike was emotionally abusive as a father. While my brother and I were at boarding school, other parents would come each week and see their children. Mike never came. And the distance wasn’t great, max 20 minutes away from where he worked. I really didn’t understand why my dad wouldn’t come see me.

    I felt traumatized by the obvious absence of my father. The lack of care from my father left me feeling that I must be a terrible kid, or that I had done something wrong, but I didn’t know what. Other kids would ask me, “Where is your dad?” And I would just cry and not be able to answer them.

    Taryn and brother Benjamin, Southern California, ca. 1992
    Taryn and brother Benjamin, Southern California, ca. 1992

    As a child, my father was always judging my brother and me. There were disdainful inspections as the first action when he would see us, inspecting our clothes, nails and shoes. It got so bad that he would not give me a hug but would heartlessly criticize how I looked or comment on the rips in my jeans (from running around outside and helping my brother catch lizards). He did this to my brother too and would turn to me and say, “He looks like a grub. Change his shirt,” before he was willing to be seen with us.

    Another example was a time when I tried to visit my father at work. He stuck me in a conference room to watch TV. All day. He never once came to talk to me. His associates came to visit and talk to me, but not Mike. Eventually, Mike had his assistant drive me back home. It was another failed attempt at creating a relationship with my emotionally sterile father.

    I was a teenage girl—my body was changing—and I was in need of reassurance, but instead he teased me, calling me “chubby” to my face and in front of others. I remember him seeing one of my friends and insensitively saying, “She’s pretty.” I can’t think of one time he complimented my looks or said something nice like that about me. Instead, he used to tell my brother and me that we were “grubs.”

    What was clear to me, as a child and into my teenage years, was that I wasn’t good enough and was rejected by my dad.

    In my teens and beyond, when I did see my father—which, again, was not often, as he did not make a lot of time for me or my brother—he treated me like he did everyone else: with disdain. I felt inferior, and it felt like he saw me because he thought he had to do it, not because he wanted to talk to me. Our conversations were awkward and had no warmth. There was no bonding with him.

    In the years before he deserted me and the rest of my family:

    He was not there for our birthdays.

    He was not there on holidays.

    He never called. Not once in my whole life.

    He almost never even wrote.

    If we happened to be in the same place of work, I would not know it and never heard from him.

    Taryn and Ben Rinder at Aunt House in Los Angeles
    Taryn and Benjamin at aunt’s house, Los Angeles, 2007

    Honest to God, he would be eating his dinner on the other side of the staff dining room from me and not even come to see me, tell me he was there or talk to me. This is after I had not seen or heard from him in months and months.

    He was not there when we needed him as a father. I believe when a father loves and wants to see his children, he will make that happen.

    My father, Mike Rinder, never did.

    In 2007, with no pre-warning or communication, my father disappeared altogether from our lives. He had deserted us.

    First off, upon his desertion, he never asked about me and my brother, nor cared if we were okay. Admittedly, the fact that he was gone made no difference in our lives because he had never been there for us. But a father who leaves his two children without a word? It was cruel, weird and inhumane.

    Once he left our family, we did not have to wait long to start being recipients of hate and attacks from him and his “friends.” He has since done nothing but try to destroy our lives and all we do and believe in. It has been his sole endeavor. He has viciously attempted to stop our religion from doing good in the society. He involved himself, personally, in estranging other individuals from the Church. He has incited others to protest in person at my home. He has incited reporters to lie about my friends and colleagues. He has carried on this harassment for more than a decade.

    [He] has since done nothing but try to destroy our lives…​all we do and believe in…

    In 2008, my brother Ben, whom I love with all my heart, was diagnosed with an invasive type of skin cancer. My mom tried to contact Mike to tell him about his son’s diagnosis. He knew she was reaching out but refused contact.

    Once again, like my story of near death, there was no word from our father. No attempt to even make sure his son was okay. No care from him to even see if he survived the multitude of surgeries and treatments for the cancer.

    Then he showed up at the facility where Ben was recovering, with a bully and a camera, pretending he cared about my brother and demanding to see him. This is so opposite to what a good father would do to show his love. In fact, he did not even ask to see Ben, his son that he never cared about and was all too willing to let die, until he needed a story to suit his own needs.

    My brother did not want to see him. Not after all that Mike had done to us, and then this insincere “gesture” which was only a charade for the cameras. Would you want to see someone if they did that to you?

    It did not stop there…

    At this point, my mom, my uncle and I became more than a little fed up. We wanted to reconcile this—the years of harassment, hate and pain from Mike Rinder. We all flew to Florida, where he was now living, to see him.

    Unfortunately, my father once again showed his true colors when the “visit” ended with his physically attacking my mother. This sealed the deal on the relationship we had as father/daughter. He was a cruel father and I was the unfortunate daughter who had to experience it.

    While screaming in my mother’s face, he held her arms so she could not move, exerting so much pressure and weight that he caused severe damage to her shoulder and the nerves in her right arm.

    He was yelling and swearing at her in a total rage and in complete hatred, all while blood was running down her arms and dripping on the ground.

    The physical trauma alone was such that she needed surgery on her right shoulder. Unfortunately, because of the deep tissue and nerve damage and cracked shoulder, she is still in pain every single day.

    So, my father, Mike Rinder caused my mom impairment for life and did it right in front of his own daughter.

    [S]creaming in my mother’s face, [Mike] held her arms…exerting so much pressure…​that he caused severe damage to her shoulder…

    Since then he has regularly denied his violence and even ridicules her about it, joking about a woman he abused—and worse, uses it to put money in his pocket and food on his table.

    His sole purpose in life is to destroy his own daughter and family—to destroy all that they believe in, enjoy and produce.

    I hope this gives a clear picture of what it is like to be the daughter of Mike Rinder.

    I am proud of who I am and what I do, despite having had a father like Mike.

    I now focus my life on helping others, taking care of my family and being a voice against domestic violence and perpetrators of it like my own father.

    Taryn, Southern California, 2021
    Taryn, Southern California, 2021