“The ‘good’ child may be frightened, and insecure, wanting only to please his parents by submitting to their will, while the ‘bad’ child may have a will of his own and genuine interests but ones which do not please the parents.” – Erich Fromm
There you have it in a nutshell.
We have children for a variety of reasons, not least of which is to make us proud and live a life we approve of. We live and teach our values, most dictated by the culture we live in.
When a child is born into a ‘famous’ family it is what he learns from day one. The parent may be consumed by their fame and success but the child knows only that the parent is good or not so good for them. Now positive fame brings with it many rewards; wealth, power, position in society and a variety of people that are usually of the same ilk. Family becomes something different for these children.
To try to equal the parent becomes a Herculean task. Being proud and using, the fame for one’s advantage becomes easy. If we look at what has happened to many children of such parents we can see a number of them falling by the wayside and never reaching their full potential or just giving up. Let’s see some of the examples in living color.
She had three children; ten year old twins Alexander and Cleopatra, and four-year-old Ptolemy. She also had a seventeen-year-old son from Julius Caesar. He had five children from three other wives. Their children were considered illegitimate in Roman law, as he was married and did not divorce until four years later.
Octavian, who ruled Rome after Antony, had the seventeen year old killed. Antony’s ex-wife raised the three remaining children of theirs. The record shows that the daughter,
Cleopatra, married a prince who became king of Nubia. There is no mention of the other children’s fates. One of Antony’s daughters with his ex-wife was the grandmother of Nero.
William was his son and illegitimate, with no record of who his mother was. Franklin and his common law wife, Deborah, raised him. She was already married to a man that had left her. They had two children; a son who died at age four and a daughter, Sarah. William was his father’s favorite, and went all over the world with him. As an adult, he too fathered an illegitimate son. He later married a daughter of a wealthy Barbados sugar planter in 1762, and this did not make his father happy.
He was appointed royal governor of New Jersey. Later he and his father did not speak as they differed on political opinions. Franklin disinherited him. William was later imprisoned.
After nine years when he was out of prison, he wrote his father and they corresponded and briefly saw one another. William remarried after his wife’s death and his son, Temple, became a lawyer and fathered an illegitimate daughter. William like his father disinherited his son.
He had two sons from his first marriage to Mileva. She left him in 1914 and took the sons to Switzerland. He said the bad marriage made him work hard on his theories.
His elder son, Hans Albert, talked about his father as being loving and involved when he was a child. He too became a scientist but never competed with his father who he felt gave up on him. They came to America in the 1930’s.
The younger son, Eduard, was four when his parents separated and nine when they divorced. He was a pianist and studied medicine. He lived in Zurich and his father lived in Berlin and saw him rarely. In his teens, he sent admiring letters to his father but then they turned angry and bitter. He was diagnosed as schizophrenic and nothing helped. He never saw his father again after 1933. His mother cared for him until her death. He died in 1965; at age fifty-five, in an institution. Einstein had remarried in America.
He had six children and the youngest was Anna.
She was the most devoted to him and cared for him for the sixteen years he suffered with cancer of the jaw, which was extremely painful.
Interestingly he sent his sons to a family doctor to learn the facts of life.
One son became an architect, another a lawyer, but it was Anna who followed in her father’s footsteps and became a child analyst. Against criticism, her father analyzed her and she learned all her techniques from him.
He died when she was forty-four and she became famous for her work on emotional development of children, and she was the leading child psychoanalyst.
Lucian Freud, a grandson, was a famous painter, and great granddaughter Emma, was the host of a hit British talk show called “Pillow Talk” which she did wearing pajamas in bed!
Gypsy Rose Lee
As a stripper, her son, Erik, had an unusual childhood, touring and seeing her perform.
She had divorced her second husband when she was pregnant. She told Erik that was his father.
She then married a third time and he took that man’s name.
It wasn’t until he was seventeen in 1961 that he learned who his real father was.
His mother stopped stripping at age forty-two in 1957 and she divorced again.
A psychiatrist told him the man he was told was his father refused to pay him, and Erik confronted his mother. She told him that he must never contact his father, and it was Otto Preminger. She choose him to be the father, but did not want him involved after that.
When Erik was twenty-two, and Preminger, sixty, he learned that his son was told the truth and he contacted him. They then worked together but Gypsy made them keep the secret from the world. When Gypsy died of lung cancer in 1970 Preminger publicly announced that he was adopting his son who was then twenty-six.
So, fame has its rewards and its downfalls, just like the rest of the world, only fame brings it to the world’s attention.
“The finest inheritance you can give to a child is to allow it to make its own way, completely on its own feet.” – Isadora Duncan