Sunday, June 23, 2013

Demi Lovato and her "daddy issues"...

First thing's first.  I really don't know the first thing about Demi Lovato.  I mean, I know she's a singer.  I've heard her song "Skyscraper".  I know her half-sister, Madison, was on Desperate Housewives.  I know her mother was once a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader.  But I don't know much else about Demi Lovato, other than her bio dad just died.  I write "bio dad" because that was how it was referenced in the article about her.  Evidently Demi Lovato was estranged from her dad and hadn't spoken to him in years.  Now he's dead.

Patrick Lovato had apparently tried to reach out to his daughter in 2010.  Demi Lovato claimed that having him in her life was too painful, so she cut off all communication with him.

I don't pretend to know why Patrick's and Demi Lovato's relationship went on the skids.  Maybe she really felt he was toxic and she needed to cut him out to preserve her sanity.  Maybe he actually was a toxic person.  I think it's more likely that he wasn't really toxic...  Perhaps rather than being toxic, he somehow was a challenge to her in some way that she couldn't deal with.

I don't disagree that sometimes it makes sense to cut people out of your life for whatever reason.  Sometimes they really are "bad" people and fit the definition of toxic.  Sometimes they might not actually be bad or toxic, but you just don't mesh with them and they get on your nerves.  You might feel better if you don't have to interact with them, but they aren't necessarily bad people.  You just don't have chemistry.

It's usually women who do this "toxic" declaration... and cut off people they deem "toxic".   They often get support from well-meaning friends who tell them it's possible to choose their family.  Personally, I don't think it's really possible to choose your family.  Blood relatives, particularly parents, will always have some kind of influence on the offspring that come after them, even if it's just the way they look or their love of a certain food.  But when women cut people out of their lives-- even family members-- other people will often support their decision and even declare them "empowered".

When men decide to cut family members out of their lives, a lot of people accuse them of  abandonment and advise them to "man up".  If it happens to be the man's child that gets cut out, Dr. Phil says, "Come on, now.  You don't give up on your kids!"  But if you get tangled up with someone evil, even Dr. Phil seems to think it's okay, especially if you don't happen to have a penis.  You could have a toxic parent.  You could also have toxic kids.  Sometimes they are toxic because of something you said or did.  Sometimes they become toxic because of something beyond your control.  While parents can and do affect their kids in a profound way, sometimes kids are affected by outside influences and parents are powerless.

Anyway, I support those who make a well-considered decision to cut so-called toxic people out of their lives.  That means that they have made the decision and are at peace with it.  They go on with their lives ever after without another look back.

What I object to is when people declare someone "toxic", cut them out of their lives, and then suddenly change their minds.  For instance, I don't like that my husband's daughters cut their grandfather out of their lives for five years and then suddenly decided it was okay to talk to him again.  It was out of the blue.  Suddenly, my father-in-law went from being "toxic" to being okay again.  He foolishly forgave his granddaughters without asking questions.  If I were him, I'd want to know what had changed.  Why were they suddenly coming out of the woodwork?  What are they after?  And will they, one day, decide they want to talk to their father again?  Will they expect him to just forgive them and accept that they thought he was "toxic" without any explanation?

I don't think there really are that many truly toxic people in the world.  Rather, I think it's come into vogue to declare someone toxic because you don't agree with them or don't like them for whatever reason.  You can say, "You're toxic.  I can't have you in my life anymore because it's too painful."  Okay...  but don't be surprised or upset if someday someone does the same thing to you.  Someone someday may think you're toxic.  And based on your behavior toward them, they may very well be right!  Hey-- if your parent is truly toxic and you spent enough time with them to determine that, doesn't it stand to reason that you might have inherited or become exposed to their toxic behaviors?  After all, the apple often doesn't fall far from the tree.

Cutting someone out of your life is dramatic and can be painful.  If you cut someone out of your life and cause them significant pain, don't be surprised if they eventually don't trust you anymore.  You may think they will welcome you back with open arms once you've decided you're done shunning them.  But they might still be working on their own shunning... because cutting someone off, especially if they don't know why you did it, fits the definition of toxic behavior.

I think if you plan to deliberately cut someone out of your life permanently, you'd better be damn sure of what you're doing.  Life is short and people die suddenly.  You may not ever be able to reconcile.  It may haunt you to the grave.  On the other hand, if someone is really toxic and you are absolutely certain you have to cut them out, it's not wrong to do so.  Just be very sure so you don't ever change your mind.  Because the person you claim is toxic may someday think the same thing about you.  



  1. I don't actually know anything about this, but young celebrities seem to have divorced parents at a proportionally greater rate than the population from their age group in general, and it seems more common than in the general pop. that they cut at least one of them out of their lives. I know there are plenty that don't fit this mild, but it seems that a lot do.

    Divorce is difficult under the best of circumstances, and so is raising a celebrity child, apparently. The combination may produce some fairly odd familial relationships. You've got potential greed and a fight for power and control (even once the kid reaches the age of majority) in addition to the same garbage so many other divorced families have in terms of one parent disparaging another parent in the presence of the kid or kids.

    Who really knows, though>

  2. Well, that's all true, Alexis... I thought it was interesting that Demi's older sister was apparently still on good terms with their dad. And I really don't know what caused Demi to cut him off. She may very well be within every right to cut him off. He might have been a bastard... or maybe he wasn't. I'm not one to tell someone that their perceptions are always automatically wrong, though I think they are often not 100% right.

    My point is not so much that Demi had no right to cut off her dad as it is that people who choose to permanently cut off people should be very sure that is what they want to do... and they should be prepared to live with that decision forever, if necessary. If my husband's daughters ever decided to contact us, they would have a lot of explaining to do. Because even though we know their mother is nuts, they also cooperated to some extent. We made the mistake of trusting their older brother and got screwed in the process. I have no doubt that they will try us if and when they think they can get away with it.


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