Today, I was contemplating on whether or not to tell my young daughter about the life and death of Whitney Houston. Whitney was a mega star whose fall from grace was very public and painful to watch. She had a turbulent marriage, multiple addictions (including one to her ex-husband), and serious career woes. During the last decade, her voice was gone, she was unpredictable in her professional commitments, and erratic in her behavior. She was quite possibly every superstar's nightmare of what could happen to them if they made bad choices.
As many have said, Whitney Houston's death came as a shock but not a surprise. Also, as many have said, it is a shame that the life of someone so blessed with talent and opportunity ended in such a shambles. Thoughts of her daughter entered into many people's minds as a first reaction. I share all these sentiments.
So even though my daughter is too young to have been confronted with the choices that older kids and teens may already have faced or will encounter, I decided to share the story of Whitney Houston and what happened to her. I told my daughter about the amazing worldwide stardom that was achieved by this beautiful and gifted singer, who was also an actress and mother. I told her about Whitney's problems with addiction and how her relationship with Bobby Brown was a very bad influence on her. I told her that Whitney tried and struggled to get free of drugs, but that it is very difficult to overcome addiction, and that drugs are very dangerous - they can make you sick, and even kill you.
My daughter understood that my point is that Whitney Houston's mistakes should serve as an example of what not to do. I encouraged my daughter to come to me if she is ever facing a choice about drugs, and that she should not even try them once, because there is nothing good in them, despite what her friends might say or do. My daughter also saw how it is important to be careful about the company you keep, and that if someone treats you poorly or is involved with drugs/alcohol, it is time to say good-bye. I told her that I am here for her if she ever makes a mistake, and that she should always come and talk to me.
I'd like to think that my daughter can become wiser through examining mistakes that are made by other people, so that she can avoid them. In this way, hopefully Whitney Houston will be contributing not only her legacy of music, but also a message to young girls about what they should not do so they can live better, safer and healthier lives than she did.