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Trying kids…

Us human beings – we like to big ourselves up. We embellish our roles in life and exaggerate our achievements to curry influence and gain respect. But very few people have genuinely important jobs. I mean jobs that really matter.

When Nikki had an ectopic pregnancy, she was rushed in to an emergency procedure. When she was in recovery, I thanked the surgeon. An Indian bloke who appeared fairly non-plussed. Just another day at his office but not so for my wife and I. We lost the baby but without his intervention and his know-how we would have lost much more.

Like I say, a very important job. Or the bomb disposal bloke who makes a device safe in a shopping centre. Nice work and more important than say being a comedian, photographer, a teacher or a carpenter.

But this statement misses an important point because it seems to me that the most crucial job in any successful society is a role that the majority of us will have, that of being a parent; for which there is no training or qualifications. Just get on with it and good luck.

The primary role of parents is to create independent adults. Self-sufficient individuals capable of becoming successful parents themselves and so the cycle continues – which brings me to Britney Spears, in the news this week for all the wrong reasons.

Over the last couple of years, anyone with a remote interest in the world around them will have seen their vocabulary swell to include words otherwise unknown…

Furlough, lockdown, pirogue, woke, non-binary… and now, courtesy of Britney and her dad,  “Conservatorship” – a legal term referring to…

the responsibilities of a conservator over the affairs of a person who has been deemed gravely disabled by the court and unable to meet their basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter.

At this point I should confess that I know almost nothing about the law and even less about Britney Spears.

I do recall however, when she first appeared in our lives with her hit, Baby One More Time – a video that put Britney at the top of the charts and the top of my only son’s affections also. He was two at the time.

That pop princess is now a 39 year old, mother of two and deemed necessary to require a Conservator because she is ‘gravely mentally disabled’ – incapable of caring for herself, although thank goodness, still able to sing and entertain the masses and add to her already considerable fortune.

I have some sympathy here with all concerned, albeit in varying amounts. It must be bewildering to have one’s life so openly scrutinised and to be the subject of discussions across the world by people who don’t know the family and never will.

I have some experience of this of course given that my 2 year old whose eyes popped at the sight of Britney in long socks is now himself the object of people’s fascination.

And even though Britney and Tom are both famous adults, I suspect that their childhoods and adolescent experiences have been very different. In Tom’s case, more normal if there is such a thing. With Eclipsed, as well as having a funny story to tell, a considerable incentive to writing the book was to explain the unusual circumstances of how Tom was found and that we are not mad parents who craved fame for our kids.

Having a very successful child is definitely unusual and is almost always confined to show business and sports. Both arenas where the pressures are commensurate with great riches and why parents have the biggest role to play and more so than any of the young star’s ‘people.’ But the rogue temptations are obviously too much for many and explains why so many child ‘stars’ have successfully ‘legally emancipated’ themselves from their parents. Money might well make the world go round but it can also bring things to a halt and including normal family life.

Maybe I am being glib and smug. Perhaps a letter from Tom’s lawyers is yet to arrive, explaining that I am to leave him alone. I hope not. We speak too regularly (almost every day) for a man planning to extricate himself from our clutches.

And I am pleased to reflect on this now and particularly so in lockdown when everyone has had time to consider their place in the world and what might lie ahead. I have been busy writing books and trying to arrest a career in decline but it also highlights a point I make throughout Eclipsed, that I have been a far more successful dad than an entertainer and I would have chosen this outcome when I set out on my adulthood.

Because parenthood is the most important job of all. The only job in our lives that is never ending and for good reason.

11 thoughts on “Trying kids…”

  1. Yes, being a parent is an unrecognised profession and yet so valuable, when parents are deficient, for the children, it is a catastrophe.
    I agree with you 100%.
    You’re right about another thing, we mustn’t pretend to be something we’re not, or we’ll be punished for cheating one day.

  2. I’m a fan of Tom that eventually became a fan of your family. I admire your closeness with each other and how you have each other’s back. We see it through the brother’s trust. I congratulate you and Nikki for raising 4 fine boys! Wish you all well! Lots of love…

  3. When that tiny baby is placed in your arms for the first time, your priorities change. As a parent, we want our children to do better and have more than we did. At least that’s how it should be. Sadly I’ve seen too many parents continue to put themselves first, and how damaging that is to the children and the family. Often it’s realized too little too late.

    I enjoy seeing the love and happiness exuded by your well adjusted kids. You (and Nikki) should be very proud!

  4. Must be worried as a parent that son is dating another top star and it’s in the news internationally and how to guide him. Zendaya did wrote that she’s crazy in love. I’m sure most ppl wish them well. Maybe Tom could ignore the press and try and still date quietly and signal he needs some privacy. I’m a fan too and following your post as well as Toms.

  5. Such sad and tragic circumstances that poor Britney finds herself in – to be deemed”gravely disabled” but yet still fill the coffers and perform. It’s so hard to find a balance in life. I don’t think you’re going to emancipated by your son anytime soon Mr Holland. He and you are the lucky ones who still have feet on the ground and a strong family bond to keep you all together

  6. Márcia Malaquias

    Hi Dom 🙂
    Sad what happened to Brit. It is necessary to have a Solid Family in Love and not in money and fame. I pray that Tom will be successful in whatever he accomplishes, but that he will remain a family man and not be dazzled by the Fame and the money and that he will always come home with a happy heart and that LA (Hollywood) is only your place of business and nothing else.

  7. Lovely blog Mr. H, (sorry for your loss) I don’t have kids but I helped raise my siblings, they were/are teenagers only 4 years younger than me but I still helped. Both me and my younger sister are going into the same major drama, and I had a relative asked me how would I feel if I ever got overshadowed by her( my younger sister), I said I’d feel fantastic if she ever eclipsed me,lol. My dad was a single dad and I saw the hours he put in and everything he did and you’re right it’s never ending and for a good reason

  8. If you’re still talking with your son nearly every day, you’re definitely doing something right! It must be surreal having to deal with the media exploding all over his personal life the past few days. Hope you all are doing well and staying sane.

  9. I really enjoyed the blog this week.
    That’s really sad and unfortunate about your loss, but it’s great that you had such a good doctor to take care of Nikki.
    Thank you for leaving the definition of “conservatorship” in this blog, as I did not know the definition entirely; I just assumed it was pretty negative, especially in regards to Britney Spears.
    Parenting really is an immaculate feat.
    Whenever you talk about parenting, it always reminds me of the TedTalk you gave. I have always found that presentation very inspiring.
    Looking forward to next week’s blog!

  10. While I do feel for Tom and his struggles with fame with a high-profile role with Spider-Man, no celebrity in the last 25 years can even be comparable to what Britney Spears had to go through.

    Pop star fame and movie star fame is a different breed, actors disappear into the character… their famous for pretending to be someone else. Spider-Man is internationally famous, whereas Tom is a vessel to that character. Britney Spears was a international sensation that was cross-generational, she was the biggest popstar on the planet from 1998-2004. The media, the international frenzy, the controversial performances, all of it was so insane. She was the only celebrity in recent decades that got close to Michael Jackson/Madonna level fame aka Level 5 “Saint of Fame”. The tabloids and paparazzi talked about everything she did, everything Britney did was news. “Pop stars rule the world, while movie stars hardly matter” is the saying. Paparazzi laws in 2010 were made in place because of how horrible they treated her in 2007, she had nobody to turn to. While also having one of the largest hate train in pop culture history… comparable to Michael Jackson.

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