Britney Spears, ‘Snowplow parents,’ and the real world
By Stephan Drew
Well, Britney Spears may soon be able to “adult” again and, if the judge rules in her favor, I will applaud that decision. For anyone who may have forgotten how the entertainer reached this point, let me refresh your memory. In 2007 and 2008, Britney went a little “wild.” She was stopped for driving around with her infant in her lap instead of a car seat. A few weeks later, while unleashing a torrent of profanity, she attacked a reporter’s car with her umbrella. Subsequently, she shaved her head and broadcast an online video rant. Her father, Jamie Spears, stepped in, had her examined, and medical officials declared her “incapable of managing her own affairs.” A conservatorship was established with her father as guardian. Britney, in her mental state at the time (and, possibly, for her own good), agreed to a “temporary” arrangement for one year. However, each year after that, her father petitioned the court and was granted renewal of his sole control. In the 13 years since, Jamie Spears has been in charge of all negotiations, album deals and the awarding of contracts. He has also held absolute power over all of her funds, including her personal expenses and “incidentals.” Friends and associates have issued numerous statements that, on numerous occasions, they witnessed Britney asking her father for $10 or $20 for a burger or movie. This is a 40-year-old woman. Can you imagine it? As of this writing, her fortune is estimated at over $60 million. During the past 13 years, she has performed all over the world and appeared on numerous talk shows and television specials. Also, during this time, she has paid her father $16,000 per month for his guardianship. In addition, she has paid his office rent, all of his taxes, his legal fees, home mortgage, his travel, hotel and security costs and all of his personal expenses. As her manager, he also gets a percentage of her profits. A few years ago, Britney did a show in Las Vegas that grossed $137.7 million. From this one performance, her father’s cut was $2.95 million. We could rush to judgment on anyone involved in this matter but, we don’t really know all the facts. No worries, though. Now that the case is finally going to be heard in open court, all of the details and dirt will be exposed. Is she “odd”? Perhaps. Is she spoiled and does she need a firm hand? Possibly. But, whatever her faults may be, if she is able to handle things well enough to keep up with a grueling concert tour and doesn’t seem to be physically ill or in danger of hurting herself or anyone else, I think she should be able to control her money and her life. As wrong as some may think it is, she has the right to spend, save or even throw away the money that SHE made. Don’t get me wrong, I sympathize with her family. I’m sure they only want the best for her and her children, as all parents and grandparents do. But, I wonder why some parents today feel that it’s their job to protect their children from all struggle and the obstacles of life. The media call them “Snowplow Parents” because their main goal is to remove any and all difficulty in the lives of their offspring. We see it frequently in the news. To protect a child’s self-esteem, all children are given “participation” trophies so they won’t feel bad for not winning First Place. Well, this does two things: 1) It decreases the value of the winner’s trophy. If everyone will get a prize, why work harder and strive to be better? There’s no need. All will share in the rewards, regardless of what effort you put forth. 2) It really doesn’t build self-esteem at all. The child who gets the participation trophy doesn’t feel better. They are quite aware that they didn’t really earn it. And they realize that all the other children know it, too. These children don’t feel pride and self-esteem. They feel embarrassment and humiliation, from the very people that they spend eight hours with every day. It defeats the very purpose of the exercise. I can’t remember when this type of teaching and parenting started but I see what it’s doing to us. High school graduates who had no idea that a job is a necessity because there is something called “bills” that must be paid. The college student who didn’t realize his new professors were going to be tougher on him than his old teachers were. The teenager who can’t live with losing her boyfriend so she is distraught and hurts or kills herself. We seem to be raising a generation that simply cannot withstand failure of any kind. But it’s not their fault. This was how they were raised, to think that life should be easy. When I was a child, my parents knew that their chief job was to prepare me to survive and succeed in the world after they’re gone. That may sound rather severe to some but that is the most important task of ANY parent. To guide, strengthen and help your children reach the point where they no longer need you to handle their affairs for them. A parent’s job is not to “protect” their child FROM the world, it is to “prepare” their child FOR the world. The world is not a “nice” place and life is never “fair.” The sooner children learn that, the better off they will be as adults. They should be taught not to count on others to provide for them. They must learn to be independent, work hard and achieve their own goals. There will be times when they stumble and fall. They may fail a test, lose a job or be dumped by a boy or girl they really love. Storms and trials are a normal part of life. But if they are taught to work hard and persevere, there will also be times of great joy as they reach their goals and achieve the success they’ve always desired. Sometimes it even takes “tough love” to make your children better people. Please don’t get the wrong impression. I’m not trying to convince anyone to be a tyrant to their children. No one wants to see a child in any kind of pain. But, a broken heart is not the same as a broken leg. Both take time to heal but, but only one needs immediate medical attention. We, as a nation, must realize that we are not helping our children by eliminating all struggle from their lives. We are severely harming their psyche and their chances of success. Better to fail and learn something from it than to always be guarded from any struggles. That is why I hope Britney Spears regains control of her life and I also hope these “Snowplow Parents” soon recede into the distance and let their children rise, fall and rise again stronger and even better.