WHEN IS IT MY FAULT?
This morning’s Post headline “Druggie Douglas and Dopey Mom” grabbed me for many reasons. Having recently been under the Post’s mommy-scope I actually found myself sympathizing with Diandra Douglas– not because I feel sorry for her at all and I do understand the method behind the Post’s attention grabbing headlines, but the point of the article was all her son’s problems are her fault and she is not only dopey but a criminal herself. After reading the whole article what I really thought was at what point do you stop blaming your parents for everything that doesn’t work out in your life?
There are so many places where I intersect with this story. It’s impossible for me not to latch on to it and dissect it and just wallow in it. It backs up my feelings about kids and parents and it reminds me of my own upbringing in certain ways. Not to mention, I lived for many years in Santa Barbara and knew Diandra Douglas. Well, let me correct that, I have met Diandra Douglas many times; she has never remembered me. Despite the fact we have been at endless parties together and have many friends in common. One could attribute this to what my mother has said to me in front of people, that I’m “not a memorable person.” Ask my husband, she said it in front of him the first night they met.
Some people are now going to chime in –look at you, you’re blaming your mother. But I wove in that anecdote on purpose, as I am not blaming anyone for anything, I am merely recounting information as it was transmitted twelve years ago. There is no blame attached. Long memory, some hurt feelings, but after she said it I didn’t go out and whip up a batch of crystal meth, try and sell it; then blame her for my misadventures.
I am the first one to dig into family dynamics and history in an attempt to find the reasons behind certain personality traits. I am also a big believer in the fact that nurture, or the lack thereof, has a profound affect on many adults resulting in neurosis and all sorts of problems. No question – much of who we are comes from where we come from and I spend endless amounts of time thinking and writing and making films about this.
But, and it’s a giant but, at a certain point once we figure it all out, target it, understand it and most importantly own it – it is then our problem. And as Mike Linderman says, we have to ask ourselves “How’s it working for us?” It is our responsibility as adults to fix ourselves.
So yes, I can say and do, I had far from perfect parenting, and I can recount insults and hurts, and bad choices made by those responsible for me as well as the next guy, probably better than some and less than others. But I can’t as a grown up pass off any poor behavior on my part to my parents. I can’t. I’ve tried it, it doesn’t fly.
I have had plenty of time to correct these problems and come to terms with them, and if I haven’t I only have myself to blame.
I can wish things were different. I can wish I had nurturing parents who loved me and were proud of me. I can wish for that and that is fine. But I can’t let the fact I didn’t get that nor do I get it now lead me into a life of crime and self-destruction and then blame my parents for not being what I wanted them to be or perhaps what they could have or even should have been. There comes a time when you have to take over your own destiny. The buck has to stop somewhere and the only behavior we control is our own. Especially once we are grown up ourselves.
For those of you who don’t know the details of the Douglas disaster: Michael and Diandra Douglas (his wife before Catherine Zeta Jones) had a child called Cameron. Since he was thirteen Cameron has been an ongoing train wreck. I remember this from the years I was in Santa Barbara and it’s been tabloid fodder forever. He not only has an endless history of drug abuse, but he has been caught selling. The last offense, the one they are throwing him in jail for, is he was caught making crystal meth with the intent to sell it and then while under house arrest his girlfriend attempted to smuggle him heroin in the house in an electric toothbrush.
And today The Post blamed it all on his mother. Unlike The Guardian two days ago who blamed it all on his father and grandfather. What I want to know is what part does Cameron Douglas play in his own life story?
The Post claims his troubles are all attributable to the fact “he was raised by self-involved parents.” OK, good – now, everyone out there who was raised by self-involved parents raise their hands. I have to stop typing for a second as both my hands are up. Both my parents are deeply self-involved. Yes, Diandra is self- involved; she was probably not around much. Was she a terrible mother? I don’t know the details. Probably not great and we know that Michael was not around as a dad as he was being a big star and getting himself ready for his own stint in sex-rehab.
But come on, millions of kids are raised like that and without all the perks Cameron Douglas got. I’m not defending Diandra here; from little time I’ve spent with her I didn’t like her much, but she can’t take the fall for his entire life.
At one point the article states that she should be “put in the slammer for poor parenting.” There is a lot of poor parenting out there, much of it worse than the Douglases. Poor parenting comes in different forms, from everything I know he was not beaten or burned with cigarettes or left out in the cold to starve. He was neglected and indulged at the same time and as someone in the article states he never had any structure. That is poor parenting but not a federal offense.
Diandra left the country and her “kid” when he was under house arrest and didn’t stay with him and that’s apparently how the girl with the heroin stuffed toothbrush got in. For that she should go to prison? The “kid” they’re talking about is thirty-one years old, for heaven’s sake. In another era he would have already outlived his life expectancy. Many people his age already have several children of their own and jobs and houses and responsibilities. They aren’t shacked up in nine million dollar townhouses with guards as nannies.
They probably should have stopped saving him before it got to this. Should she have stayed home and babysat him at this point? My guess is she is probably a little fed up with him. I know I would be.
The article also says she was “so self-involved she wasn’t interested in raising her son.” Many of us have had parents like that. My father was not interested in raising me. And my mother was more interested in our being “friends” than mother/daughter. Does that give me a hall pass for lifetime of miscreant behavior?
One newspaper blames the Douglas male fame– they say the kid didn’t have a chance. They say it’s very hard to be the son of someone famous. But Michael Douglas survived being the son of Kirk and he was just as famous Michael. Part of it I suppose is Darwinian. There are many cases of famous people’s offspring crashing and burning. But those are the ones we hear about because they are famous. So the “it’s not easy being the son of someone famous” becomes an excuse.
You know what, it’s also not always easy being the son of a coal miner or a paraplegic or an alcoholic or a manic-depressive or a workaholic or a parent who refuses to admit anything is their fault. Shall I continue? Parents are imperfect like all people, some more so than others. And some rally to get better and fix their broken spots in order to save themselves and their kids a lot of pain and some just go on in oblivion until something disastrous happens or they die themselves.
Cameron was an unlucky Lucy Duck. He had famous parents, a beautiful self-absorbed mother, and he was the child of divorce. He then had to sit around and watch his father father a second family with more vim and vigor and parental interest than he did him. OK everyone out there who has lived through that one raise his or her hands. My hand is up. So far I’m not hearing much that is different from millions of people except he got to jump the line at Disneyland and fly private while all this “abuse” was taking place.
I don’t mean to sound hard-assed about what most people are referring to as poor, abused Cameron. Someone on HuffPo called him a victim of the DEA. I find that truly insane. He was selling crystal meth to people. Does he have no culpability for that? What if he wasn’t very good at it and killed someone? Then they say well, the people buying crystal meth know what they are doing. True. So do the people making it and selling it.
He’s not a victim of the DEA, and he’s not a victim of poor parenting. He may be the recipient of poor parenting, but he is a weak person who has been indulged and not made responsible for his own poor choices. Mommy and Daddy have bailed him out every time, out of guilt and because they could and probably there has been a hefty dose of embarrassment thrown in too. He’s a victim of not being made responsible for his own behavior because his parents did not want to be responsible for theirs. And you can certainly find fault with them there. Big fault.
So yesterday, when he was facing ten years in prison his family went to court and said it was their fault, Michael Douglas said he should have been around and because of that Cameron should either not go to jail but rehab or the very least get a reduced sentence. His mother blamed his father. Diandra’s friends blamed her. But Cameron was the one making the crystal meth and hooked on heroin and nobody seemed to be pointing any fingers at him.
So let’s get this straight: because Michael made poor parenting choices and is a celebrity and his ex-wife was apparently not responsible enough to raise a kid, which could be probably half of the parents in this country, Cameron should get off with just a stint in rehab or at least a reduced sentence?
Of course, the system being the system it worked- partially- he got five years shaved off. Don’t think that would have happened to the inner city kid who probably had no father at all and crack head for a mom and no money to pay high-priced lawyers. That kid is not only a victim of poor parenting but a corrupt judicial system as well. Lucky for Cameron the very parents everyone is blaming his life long troubles on could fly in at the eleventh hour and do one more rescue.
The thing about blaming others for your problems, even if they might have contributed to them, is you will never, ever fix them yourself. I have seen this one in action my whole life.
Time to grow up, Cameron. Maybe five years in jail will do that for you. It’s a tough way to learn but clearly for you it’s the only way. Your parents can’t serve the time and my guess is they wouldn’t do it anyway, nor should they.
Uday Achayra the Guru in Lucky Ducks sent this to me today. I thought it was appropriate.
Also in light of today’s posting – I suggest
Children of the Self-Absorbed – A Grown-Up’s Guide to Getting Over Narcissistic Parents
By Nina W. Brown
Clearly there are many of us out there…. The book is in it’s second edition.
And nowhere does it suggest trafficking drugs as a solution!