It Ain’t My Fault

  • Montana Fishburne, aka Chippy D, actor Laurence Fishburne’s daughter, getting into the pornography business.
  • Nicole Richie, singer/songwriter Lionel Richie’s daughter, circa 2003-2007, high on heroin and pain meds, arrested and jailed.
  • Maia Campbell, the late author Bebe Moore Campbell’s daughter, suffering from bipolar disorder, high on meth and allegedly prostituting herself.

We tend to believe that when a child ends up a young adult going down the wrong path, the first place to place the blame is on the parents. Chris Rock made this folk wisdom a funny platitude when he said that as a father, his only job was to “keep my daughter off the pole!” We tend to believe that who people grow up to be as adults is the direct product of the inputs of their parents. Those who turn to drugs, alcohol, prostitution, gambling and any of the other vices of the world are often thought of as children who weren’t loved enough, disciplined enough, paid attention to enough, protected enough, read to enough, sang to enough, just overall parented enough. The general idea is that lousy kids come from lousy parents.

Bullshit.

Let’s face it: some people are going to grow up to be crackheads, meth-smokers, pimps and prostitutes no matter what kind of family they come from. Some people are going to lack self-control and self respect no matter how many times their parents told them they loved them, no matter how many times they were lovingly disciplined, no matter how many books were in their homes, no matter how organic their food was. Nasty adults come from families were the parents were the nicest people on the block, who hugged their kids all the time, limited their television watching, and didn’t allow violent video games in their homes.

The fact that you now are different from your siblings, and you grew up in the same house is evidence that parenting is not the end-all-be-all in how people turn out. There are so many other things going on, things we discuss on this blog all the time. And I’m sorry, this might make me lose cool points among you all, but I’m saying it – I’m not taking all the blame if my kids don’t turn out to be the greatest in the world. I’m doing my best, giving them most of what I’ve got. (Not all, cause we gotta save a bit for ourselves!)

I’m not saying that the Fishburnes and Richies and Campbells did all they could – I have no idea. But you probably don’t either. At the end of the day, if my kids end up as prostitutes, high on drugs, or in porn, it ain’t my fault.

What do you think? Do you blame the parents when you see young adults acting out? If your kids go down the wrong road, will you blame yourself?

10 thoughts on “It Ain’t My Fault

  1. I think I would blame myself, but I don’t think that it would be warranted. I feel responsible for everything my child makes. I think that just comes from being a parent. But, in the same breath I know we as parents are doing all that we can to lead them in the right direction. More importantly I try to teach them to make positive good decisions. Just as I had a mind of my own growing up, I know my kids will also. I was raised in a loving god fearing home know right from wrong, but I still made choices that were not so admirable. As I am sure my parents did too. I feel like as long as you truly do the best that you can…Yeah, it ain’t my fault.

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  2. There was something in the New York Times recently about when good parents have bad children. It happens, I suppose, though I have to admit that I’m probably one of the first people to point a mental finger at parenting when I see particularly bratty or out-of-control kids wreaking havoc. I have to say that I was beside myself about this whole Montana Fishbourne thing. One, because as a sci-fi fanatic, I LOVE The Matrix and the idea that Morpheus is going through hell right now really bothers me. But no, seriously, poor guy. Poor poor guy. This girl has expressed no shame or remorse. In fact, she has been bold about saying that she loves porn and sees it as a way to advance her “career” (her career as what? As a bucket of ho?). I can’t imagine what he’s going through. She may be only 18 but seriously you ought to have some semblance of sense at 18, hell even 14, 15 or 16. Anyway, I hear you about not always blaming the parents. At some point, their mistakes are theirs and theirs alone–and unfortunately, some will have to pay for those mistakes for a mighty long time. For some reason, I don’t compare the other two, Richie and Campbell, to Montana.

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    1. I don’t think she should express remorse. Because what does that really say? She doesn’t belong to him. I don’t feel bad for him at all. Just like I wouldn’t feel bad for a parent who ended up with a messed up kid. Our kids don’t belong to us. And even if they did, the aren’t our possessions. It’s not like something of his, his possession, got stolen, went spoiled. I would feel bad for that. If she died, I would feel bad for him. But she’s doing porn. It’s not that deep.

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      1. I love this post! But i DO think it IS that deep…when an 18 year old who has a father of the stature and prominence of her father (Come on LARRY FISHBURNE?!) decides to follow in the footsteps of Kim Kardashian and Kenya whateva her name is and release a sex tape (porno) … THAT is deep. Let’s not act like pornography is not HIGHLY problematic…

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  3. I go back and forth on this one. At times, I feel like I have failed my son’s for this reason or that, and particularly with my oldest, who struggles a great deal in academics, wonder what I’ve done wrong! Other times I get very defensive when others suggest that I haven’t done “enough” or “the right thing” for my kids because I believe they are ignoring what I have done and unfairly critiquing me.

    I know that lately I have been looking to make a lot of connections between how parents, moms in particular, repeat “cycles.” I know it is unfair because as an educator, a videographer and a peer to many I know there are many socializing agents out there.

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  4. I think you are right, for the most part. It’s a fine line, though, especially when children are young. I spent the summer in my self-created potty training intensive camp in my house and it has been a lesson in the reality that my son belongs to himself and God–not me. If I could reach inside him and control that bladder, I’d do it ! But his body is his own and he learns his own lessons, or not, and faces his own consequences. I’ll have to remember that more and more as my children get older.
    I’m sure that part of the reason that it’s hard to get on your bandwagon is that our society’s go to position is to blame the mother . . . .

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  5. this is a tough one, but I do take some responsibility- but I keep it in perspective. At some point, as Toya said, folk gon’ do what they gon’ do. HOWEVER, something is amiss… it’s one thing to party all night, and have ho-like tendancies (lol) it’s a WHOOOOLLLE nother monster when your ambition is to make pornography movies as a career starter. Seriously. She’s not poor, broke, and down on her luck…her dad is Laurence Fishburne. I only know his movie and public persona, I don’t know how present he was in her life, nor do I know what kind of examples she saw, what kinds of conversations they had growing up..heck, did her parents impart any spiritual teachings? No idea. So, my short answer is YES, if my 18 year old wanted to be a porno star, I’d wonder what I did or didn’t do… ESPECIALLY, if it were for the reasons SHE gives.

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  6. I think that although we can’t ultimately control what our children choose, we have so many opportunities, especially in the early years, to fill that space of time with the good. Show them the decent, the pure, the good, and make the distinction between right and wrong, and tell them what they want to choose. I think it’s easy to accidentally, in the name of giving them their choice, fail to show them what they should choose, to lead and train them in the way they should go early, so that when they are faced with these situations later, it is automatic. Will they still choose contrary, maybe they will, but at least I hope to know there was absolutely no chance I slipped up on my responsibilities to teach them light and truth (whatever you call it).
    Having said that, after I had done all I could do, if I had a child choose that way, I guess I would try to remember that people can always change, no matter their choices in the past. That’s the hopeful thing. There’s always a way back and hopefully the repetition during their youth is inside them somewhere and though they seemed not to be listening, they were hearing it I would hope.

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    1. Kim – I think what you are saying is so true. I see a lot of parents trying to “affirm” their children, while what they are really doing is allowing them to run wild, not respect others, not have any regard for anyone but themselves. Our job as parents is to train them in the right way to go, and I think a lot of us forget that. Although our children don’t belong to us, they were given to us to do what’s right by them, which is to help them grow into good adults. We shouldn’t shirk from that responsibility, even if we know that despite our best efforts, sometimes children go astray.

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