On Paris Jackson and Parental Loss

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For a year and a half I watched my mom dying without realizing it. I was 10 years old when my mom passed. I wonder if Paris Jackson too watched her father dying for years without realizing it. She was 11 years old when Michael Jackson passed.

The tween years, ages 10 through 12, are especially critical for little girls. They are hitting puberty and their transitioning bodies can be a source of excitement, self-consciousness, and confusion all at once. They are maturing mentally yet are still prone to childish behavior. With so many changes in them it’s important to have a stable and supporting family unit around them.

The death of a close love one can shake even the most rock solid of family units.

My family was very much an old school unit. My mom stayed at home and looked after my older brother and me. She took care of checkups, dentist appointments, school functions, and whoopin our behinds when we acted up. My dad would come home from work and dinner would be ready.

Even when my mom battled cancer the first time when I was 6 years old, I saw no change in my dad’s disposition. But after she had passed from the second battle I saw the wreck my dad turned into. Not only did he lose his best friend, but suddenly he saw my brother and me as a responsibility. He felt alone.

It took some time before he got the hang of things, balancing office work and house work, but we were alright. My grandma and Aunts and Uncles all stepped in. We all lived in different states but that didn’t stop phone calls, packages, and personal visits.

Describing Paris’s family unit as broken or dysfunctional doesn’t fit. It’s beyond those words. The Jackson family, though quite large as a whole, are divided by years of scandals, rivalries, and mistrust all magnified in the public eye. No child should ever have to question an Aunt and Uncle’s fight for custody as a financial move. No child should ever have to turn to Twitter to help find his/her grandma. No child should ever be passed around to different homes.

I understand just how critical it is for Paris to have at least one source of support. Someone who can praise her positive growth, reprimand her negative growth, talk when she needs it, and simply listen when she needs it. She needs someone she can trust.

I am in no way justifying Paris’s suicide attempt, but I do understand why. More than four years have passed since M.J.’s death and Paris has had to do some of the hardest amount of growth a child undergoes with a family against itself.

I understand that mothers are looked at as the mentors of daughters, but my father is largely to thank for the woman I am today. He has been my example for everything a decent human being should be. And even though one of his favorite lines is “I’m not your friend, I’m your father” he has been a friend. I see myself in my dad.

Paris will soon be 16 years old and near adulthood. In order to make it through her next big phase of development, she needs to successfully make it through her adolescent one. Now with her father gone I don’t know who Paris sees herself in. I worry that she might not see anything in herself at all. I pray that she can find the strength, the reason, or the support to get better.

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