Wednesday 21 February 2018

When I grow up, I'm going to be just like mum. . .

Whitney Houston's daughter seems to have inherited her mother's destructive streak. Chrissie Russell reports

Mummys' girls: Whitney Houston's daughter Bobbi has been accused of allegedly snorting cocaine
Mummys' girls: Whitney Houston's daughter Bobbi has been accused of allegedly snorting cocaine
Madonna and Lourdes at the Vanity Fair Oscars party. Photo: Reuters
Mum's the word: Lindsay Lohan and her mother Dina

Chrissie Russell

All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy... or their excuse, if the rumours about Whitney Houston's daughter are to be believed.

It would seem that 18-year-old Bobbi Kristina Brown may have inherited more from her mum than just good looks and an excellent singing voice.

New pictures just released in the National Enquirer appeared to show Houston's daughter snorting coke -- just the way mum used to do.

But while mum confessed her drug-addiction battles in a tell-all 2009 interview with Oprah, her daughter has taken to her Twitter account insisting the whole thing was "a set-up" and "not what it looks like".

Her ex-boyfriend maintains it is exactly what it looks like, telling the National Enquirer: "Krissi is addicted to cocaine. I've tried to stop her, but all she said was 'I'm just like my mother'."

Mothers reading this will no doubt balk at once again becoming Freudian target for blame. But in Bobbi Kristina's case, if she were to have inherited her mum's worst habit, is it really her fault?

Dr Patrick Ryan, clinical psychologist at the University of Limerick, is inclined to side with the child.

He says: "Blaming it on mother might sound like a bit of a get-out clause, but if Whitney Houston's daughter were able to, would she not want to change her behaviour?"

He adds: "I work with teenagers frequently and taking responsibility for their actions is something they learn from their parents. If the parents didn't model that then where are they going to learn it from?"

Looking at Bobbi Kristina's troubled upbringing you have to wonder if the girl ever stood a chance.

Both parents, her father is singer Bobby Brown, have been in and out of the Betty Ford Centre for addiction treatment.

In her Oprah interview, Houston told how she left her 13-year-old daughter with her brother Gary in Atlanta, Georgia, while she fled to LA after a drug- and drink-fuelled row with Brown.

"All that uncalm, unbalanced behaviour and drug abuse took place in front of her," says Dr Ryan.

"Given the age she was when it took place, she will have certainly have assumed some of that destructive behaviour into her belief system."

It's a danger he says all Hollywood kids have to contend with.

"Celebrities are highly dramatic people but children, especially young children, need calm, consistent parenting.

"If they grow up in an environment where mum or dad is constantly acting in an unbalanced way, they'll start to think that behaviour is okay."

Which explains the swathe of famous offspring -- such as mother and daughter Sharon and Kelly Osbourne who have both battled with addiction -- who have followed in their destructive parents' footsteps.

But even if mum isn't firing up the crack pipe and divorcing dad, the daughters of overly attentive mothers don't always fare better.

Lindsay Lohan is proof that having your mother involved with every aspect of your life doesn't mean that it's going to work out perfectly.

Her mum Dina had harboured dreams of her own moment in the spotlight, but settled for managing Lindsay instead.

"A lot of mums are guilty of over-protective parenting," says Dublin-based parent mentor Sheila O'Malley from

"They give and give and give and ultimately end up living the child's life rather than their own.

"But when a child is dependent on a parent, it's difficult for them to step up and say 'I'm not happy with this' and as a result they'll do one of two things, conform or rebel."

One could say Lindsay has done both. After her heyday of earning millions of dollars (of which her manager mum took a sizeable share) the actress has gone into a descent of repeated drug addictions and court appearances. Yet mum insists she's fine and able for work.

Over-protective parenting is one unhealthy style of but over-controlling is another."This is when the parent wants the child to live their life," explains Sheila.

"Neither parenting type is healthy. In both instances, the mum is heavily invested in the child and the child is under a lot of pressure to try and please them -- they are both living someone else's life."

One woman who never worried about what other people thought of her is Madonna. So if daughter Lourdes has inherited this characteristic, celeb-watchers are in for a treat.

The two are close. Like her mother, Lourdes follows Kabbalah beliefs, is devoted to exercise and loves singing and acting.

But 14-year-old Lourdes is very much her own woman. Although she and 52-year-old Madonna have collabored on a fashion line, they don't exactly share a wardrobe.

The Material Girl took her mini-me daughter to the Vanity Fair Oscars party, but no-one could confuse them.

Madonna in a lacy, barely there number, true to form, clearly set out to shock, while Lourdes actually appeared more grown-up in a printed mini-dress.

Lourdes knows what she wants out of life too, and Madonna had to come to terms with that when her daughter changed her mind about studying law and decided to to go the LaGuardia performing academy in New York.

Although Madonna and Lourdes enjoy a good relationship, so many mums and daughters have fraught relationships because in the majority of cases mothers are the primary care giver.

Typically, between 80pc and 90pc of parenting is done by mothers, which makes it that bit harder for them to step back and give the kids space to make their own decisions and mistakes.

Mums also communicate differently to fathers -- tending towards more emotional interaction while fathers stick to the practical.

Dads will tell daughters they shouldn't have filled the car with petrol when it ran on diesel, mums will tell you they must have been a bad mother to have raised such a careless, unthinking daughter.

And while we read about overbearing dads (think Tiger Woods's ambitious father, the Williams sisters' camera wielding pop) it's still the mums and daughters that strike a chord for having the most intense bond -- good or bad.

"There's something to the adage 'A son is your son until he takes a wife but a daughter is a daughter for the rest of your life'," says Sheila.

"The bond between mother and daughter can be very strong and result in a fantastic relationship, but given that you both know exactly how to press each others buttons, it can also lead to some pretty spectacular arguments."

And yes, whether Whitney's daughter said it or not, you will turn into your mum.

"Of course we become our parents," says Dr Ryan.

"They are the ones that influence the best part of our first 18 years, we pick up by osmosis our parents beliefs and thinking and unless we make a deliberate decision to change that then our parents will inform who we are."

Irish Independent

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