This is turning out to be a big week for mega-stage parents proving that it’s impossible for their celebrity offspring to trust them.
Beyonce announced that her father, Mathew Knowles won’t be managing her, anymore. He’s made a bundle at it, ever since the late 1990s when Destiny’s Child debuted.
And Tori Spelling’s mom, Candy Spelling, is going back to the trough for a second helping of Tori’s fame by publishing her second “Daughter Dearest” tell-all. Strangely, her representatives claim that this book is about Candy “coming into her own.” Really? By drafting a book off her daughter’s notoriety? Uh...I don’t think so.
The truth is that from the moment a parent decides not only to allow a child to work in entertainment, but also decides to personally profit from that work (whether by taking cash or building a mansion for the family or stealing a little limelight), that parent is not a credible source of unconditional love. The attempt to ignore that fact—the stark reality of having been used for profit—may be one reason why Lindsey Lohan was on drugs and in and out of jail, Britney Spears was in and out of rehab and Michael Jackson (who paid to settle a claim of sexual assault on a child) is dead. Drugs can dull that sort of pain. The theft of a necklace can be a metaphor for it, as can stealing the sexual innocence of a child.
Sure, there are talented kids who beg their parents to audition for a role in a movie or on TV. And this society prizes entertainment so highly that we irrationally think it’s okay to let them work in film or television, while we would never indulge the stated desires of other kids to take care of animals at a veterinarian’s office or help construct buildings. We call the former “child stardom” and the latter “child labor,” when they are the one in the same. Yet, the distinction melts away when it is a parent who is on the take financially, or narcissistically. Farming a kid out in order to enrich oneself is reprehensible, regardless of how the set might glisten.
The psychological hurdles that a parent must clear to write a tell-all book about her daughter are ones most of us would never be able to clear. That parent would have to believe that the general public is a proper sounding board for very deep feelings about her daughter’s character and development.
Mary Perry Hudson, for instance, Katy’s mom, apparently believes it is okay to publicly question whether her daughter is hypersexual and immoral, married to the wrong fellow and in need of being saved.
Candy Spelling apparently believes it is okay to paint her daughter as money-driven, fame obsessed and ungrateful. That parent would have to believe that signing a contract to publish such indictments and cashing a check for delivering on that contract is just as good as maintaining a quiet dignity, writing a heartfelt note or suggesting to a daughter that, no matter what happens, there is one place she is always welcome and always loved: A place called home.
Knowles, Hudson, Spelling, Jackson, Williams (Venus’ dad), Spears. These are the poster parents for those mothers and fathers who not only live through their children (a toxic enough dynamic), but actually live off their children. The parent in a ghetto who gives birth in order to increase a check from the government is their distant cousin. The father in China who sells his daughter is their spiritual brother. The names and circumstances may be very different, but their hearts are in the same place.
If your child has the potential to be famous, I would suggest you celebrate her talent, look forward to the day it might come fully into bloom, even dream with her about how she might become famous one day (if she wants to be). But don't force her. Don't rush her. Don't let your dreams dictate hers. And, profit not one dollar from her.
Dr. Keith Ablow is a psychiatrist and member of the Fox News Medical A-Team. He is a New York Times best-selling author, and co-author, with Glenn Beck, of the upcoming book “The 7: Seven Wonders that Will Change Your Life.” Dr. Ablow can be reached at email@example.com.