Headlines read "De Blasio's daughter tells of substance abuse." For too many families this is not news. Their own children have revealed to them disturbing addictions, sometimes even more than once. Critics rush in to ask why the de Blasio's kept this secret until after the father's election as mayor of New York City. Others applaud Chiara's openness. Myself, I see it as an example of our societal confusion about the relationship between parents and emerging adult children. Don't get me wrong, I applaud Chiara de Blaisio for using her father's celebrity status to reveal her addiction problem in a way which might inspire other families to confront the drug abuse in its circle.
We give inches of print and thousands of pixels to the concerns of the children of celebrity. So much so that in California, Halle Berry and Jennifer Garner recently backed a law to increase punishment towards the paparazzi who harass the children of stars.
Do we relish the fact that the successful, like us, have problems? Or is it that we confuse personal and family success? I notice when the children are successful we ask parents to distance themselves, but when the parents reach stardom we encroach on the privacy of their children. In fact, we berate parents who brag about their children's achievements and admonish them when they take credit for any role in their children's victories.
The paradox is parents put a lot into kids and kids do precious little to earn their parents celebrity status. In fact, few of us can claim to have made it to a stable life without the help of people who clothed, fed, and nurtured us along the way.
Much that we know about parent and adult child relationships comes from pop culture. Big stories include the problems celebrities have with their parents like Lindsay Lohan and her father or Britney Spears and her father. Add to this a plethora of TV sitcoms which reinforce the pugilistic nature of parent-child relationships and we have a recipe for discounting the enormous work of 'parenting.'
When a celebrity brings his or her parents to a public event it is seen by the press as a negative. Rather than reporting on the support and nurturing that parents have provided, the media oftentimes describe it as an act of desperation. How horrifying to think that the only reasons a celebrity might bring her/his parents to share such a great honor is as a means of squelching rumors. Evidently parents should be neither seen nor heard.
The truth is the actions of both parents and children influence each other. Let's give parents their due and give children of celebrities some privacy. Sadly this Utopian clarion call is unlikely, given the fascination with every aspect of celebrity.
Things are not going to change because we are so enamored with celebrity gossip that it sells papers and provides viewers. The most we can hope for is that stars and their children will use the media in constructive ways to help the rest of us deal with life's adversity.