During the past week I’ve heard and read countless references to Michael Jackson’s supposed pedophilia. Everything from throw-away wisecracks and bad jokes to mean-spirited claims to being glad he is dead due to his abuse of children have been popping up everywhere, it seems.
Now, I’m not a big Michael Jackson fan, though I grew up in the 80’s, as surrounded by his music as any other kid. I’m also not interested in defending his parenting choices–from conception to daily life–though I’ll admit I think keeping his children’s faces out of the media is admirable by comparison to most celebrity parents. But I am troubled by this constant stream of assumptions that Jackson was a sexual abuser of children, just because he had kids sleep over at his house–and yes, even in his bed.
A few years ago, Martin Bashir’s documentary was supposed to be damning evidence that Michael Jackson’s interest in children was inappropriate. But I have to tell you that when I watched it, especially the part specifically addressing Jackson’s sleepovers, I was underwhelmed. What Jackson says doesn’t strike me as a far cry from what many attachment parenting devotees claim about sleep sharing and making children’s needs for bonding and security a priority. For example, Jackson tears up as he passionately tells Bashir:
“People don’t even eat with their fathers anymore or their mothers…They want love, they want to be touched, they want to be held… The family bond has been broken…it’s destroying our world. We need to bond again.”
Sounds perfectly reasonable to me. And I’m not even a co-sleeping mom. Later, Bashir tries to get Jackson to see how abnormal adults and children sleeping together is, but Michael isn’t buying. “You don’t sleep with your kids?” he asks. And personally I find Bashir’s response far less believable than anything Jackson has told him: “No! I would never dream of sleeping with my kids” he emphatically insists. As a parent, I find that really hard to believe.
But even the question of kids sleeping with adults other than their parents isn’t a big stumper for me. As I said, we’re not a co-sleeping family (99% of the time), but we have friends who are. If my kids were to have sleep-overs with such friends, I’d be neither shocked nor horrified to hear my kids snuggled down with their friends and their parents. I’ve done overnight child care for others and slept with those children–who were undoubtedly more in need of comfort with their parents away for the night.
But I suppose Jackson is right when he says “People always have a judgment about anything you do… Everything is strange to somebody.”
Strange is all well and good. We’re all entitled to our own sense of the normal and our own decisions about what’s best for our kids. But to call someone a pedophile is hostile and inappropriate–especially when he was never found guilty of any such thing and is now beyond defending himself.
But that’s just my opinion. Watch this piece of the Bashir interview and tell me what you see: