Hiding From Their Parents
The difficulties started early for the Spears children: Britney, Bryan, and youngest sister, Jamie Lynne. When their parents would get into a particularly explosive argument the children would run and hide in their Aunt Chanda’s nearby trailer. It’s no wonder Britney’s mental health wasn’t stable after such a harrowing childhood.
Rollercoaster Of A Childhood
Lynne Spears seemed to waver between exerting an unhealthy amount of control over her children to actively neglecting them. It’s been reported in some sources that the Spears children were often seen running around their Kentwood, Louisiana home entirely unclothed. It’s unclear if their parents joined in too, but allowing your children to run free is only cute to a certain point. Children rely on their parents to provide for them, which includes getting them dressed day to day when they’re young.
A Real Life Mama Rose
Though Lynne Spears always placed the desire for fame on Britney’s shoulders, her active role in developing the careers of both of her daughters, beginning with Britney, who was only 3 years old when she first started performing. It seemed Lynne was looking for a way out of Kentwood, Louisiana, and enjoyed the comforts of Hollywood bought with her daughter’s fame. Lynne would only switch her focus to launching the career of youngest child, Jamie Lynne, only after Britney was a bonafide superstar.
A Near Split In The Early Days
In June 2009, it was revealed that the Spears matriarch had filed for divorce from her husband, Jamie in 1980, a year before Britney’s birth. The reason given for the split? Alleged infidelity. According to Lynne’s testimony in the documents, Jamie Spears was spotted in a local bar on December 25, 1979 getting physical with another woman, a union which she alleged he consummated later night and into the next morning. The papers were mysteriously withdrawn, however, in March 1980.
Poverty In The Backwoods
For years, Britney sold the story of a comfortable, suburban upbringing in Louisiana, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Kentwood is a tiny rural town close to the Mississippi border, which was best known for its dairy production until Britney made the big time. Her family was so poor during her upbringing that the Spears children were often confronted with an empty fridge. To feed the family, Jamie would hunt, bringing back rabbits and squirrels for dinner.
Escape From The Trailer Park
Jamie and Lynne Spears began their marriage in a tiny trailer situated in Simpson’s Trailer Park, within the town borders of Kentwood. Patriarch Jamie worked in the construction business, while his wife Lynne was a second grade teacher. Their first child, Bryan, was born in 1977, 4 years before Britney. Luckily for her, the family had managed to upgrade their dwelling from a trailer to a three bedroom bungalow sometime prior to her birth. But still, her parents struggled to pay their bills.
Caught In The Crossfire
When Britney was only 5 years old, she was at the center of a particularly harrowing fight between her parents. Her Uncle Willie, Jamie Spears’s brother recalled, “One time Jamie was drunk and tried to drive off with Britney in the car. She was no more than five years old. I tried to stop him, so I reached into the truck to grab the keys from the ignition and he punched me.” Britney was still in the car, distraught, but was eventually rescued by Lynne.
According to a report on Britney’s early years from 2009, Britney began performing as a way to cope with the anxiety and fear instilled in her by her parents, who were constantly arguing. Somehow, Lynne managed to pay for Britney to take dance classes, voice lessons, and gymnastics lessons, even though they were barely making ends meet. Her training began when she was only 3, and her ambitious mother enrolled her in a talent competition at only 6, which Britney thankfully won.
Too Young For Mickey
Lynne’s ambitions for her daughter knew no bounds when she packed up an 8 year old Britney and drove her all the way to Atlanta, Georgia in order for her to audition for The All New Mickey Mouse Club, which began airing in 1989. Lynne also had no qualms with lying about Britney’s age in order for her to get seen. It didn’t matter, as the producers turned her down. But Lynne was undeterred and went on a mission to sign Britney with an agent.
Numbing The Pain
Some of Britney’s later mental health struggles should have been forecasted by the behavior she was allowed to engage in at home. Allegedly, Lynne Spears let her small children to consume alcoholic beverages alongside her. The only caveat was that Lynne needed to be present. Aside from being entirely illegal, it’s a particularly bad idea when you know you have a family history of addiction and alcoholism. Britney’s early exposure seemed to prime her for her later substance struggles.
Growing Up Disney
When Britney was 12, her mother hauled her off once again to try and get her a spot on The All New Mickey Mouse Club, and this time, they were successful, with Britney landing a coveted spot among other future superstars, including Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera, and Ryan Gosling. It proved to be a corrupting influence, as Gosling was apparently caught teaching the impressionable Britney about the art of intimacy, which almost got him kicked off the show.
Hooked On Mouse
It seemed that Britney and Ryan’s private conversations were not the only corruptive influences on the budding starlet. There are rumors that the largely preteen cast were dabbling with the illicit substances behind the scenes of the hit Disney show. Combined with perils of childhood stardom, Britney was being primed for later disaster and unhappiness, but even knowing what went on backstage, Lynne Spears was only focused on building her daughter up into a genuine celebrity, not the damage that fame would do to her well being.
Heeding Ryan’s Words
Despite pushing an image of chastity once she became a successful pop star, Britney had long past that particular milestone. It seemed mom Lynne pushed a 14 year old Britney to date an 18 year old football player from her high school, in a bid to gain more popularity. Not only did Lynne enable her young daughter to engage in such activity, she seemed to encourage the couple to spend time alone with one another, with little regard for allowing Britney to have a healthy childhood.
Leading With Lolita
As Britney made a grab for stardom, her mom and producers let her lead with her seductive school girl look, which would not only appeal to teen girls, but would also catch the attention of boys and men, fueling the worst of their Lolita fantasies. Britney’s every move was being controlled with regards to her career, but the free for all in which she was raised was beginning to have serious consequences on her well being.
The Family Business Goes Bust
Even as mom was micromanaging Britney’s new singing career, her no good husband Jamie was continuing to mismanage the family finances. The bills that had built up over the years were taking their toll, and despite Britney nabbing a record deal in 1998, her father’s business still went belly up. Lynne explains the financial trouble away by claiming that they put everything they had into making sure Britney got a chance to showcase her talents, when in truth the fame was mostly Lynne’s dream.
Grounded At The Airport
At just 16 years old, Britney got caught attempting to board a plane laden with illicit materials, though it is unclear where she found them. It’s amazing that even as she was on her way to becoming the number one female pop star in America, news about the incident didn’t make waves in every tabloid known to man. Britney managed to uphold the good girl facade until her early 20s, when she finally admitted to trying stuff out of curiosity.
The Story Of A Girl Named Lucky
In the midst of her first European tour, Britney’s mental health took a turn for the worst. Never considering what toll the celebrity life would take on her in the future, she was prescribed the antidepressant, Prozac. She was only 18, but was experiencing major panic whenever she found herself alone at night. Her doctors, however, never properly explained how the medication worked, which caused Britney to take it sporadically, rather than every day, likely leading to later manic behavior.
Not A Girl
In public, it was important to Britney that she continued to put forth the facade that she was waiting for marriage, but after her 2007 meltdown, Lynne released an autobiography the following year. In the book, Lynne revealed that not only did Britney first become intimate with her boyfriend at 14, she also was intimate with Justin Timberlake from the very start of their relationship, despite claiming the contrary.
Changing Her Focus
With Britney solidly in superstar territory as she released one hit after another, mom Lynne pivoted her attention to her younger daughter, Jamie Lynn. With one child already in the spotlight, Lynne now had the resources available to more easily funnel Jamie Lynn into the Hollywood machine. Her first professional acting gig was in the 2002 film, Crossroads, which starred her big sister Britney as Lucy Wagner. Jamie Lynn played a younger version of Lucy, which was just enough to get her noticed by other casting agents.
Abandoning The Profit Machine
As Britney’s popularity continued to climb, Lynne Spears essentially abandoned her daughter to the whims of her new managers, who controlled her every move, and some say plied her with substances to keep her performing at break neck speed. After all, mom had another daughter who was close to a break through. Lynne parlayed Jamie Lynn’s first acting role into a contract with the comedy sketch show for kids, All That, which was aired on Nickelodeon.
Jamie Lynn’s career began to solidify with her steady work on All That, Britney started burning out. In 2002, she tried to take a 6 month break from music, but her managers wouldn’t allow her, sending her right back to the studio. At the same time, her personal life took a dive when her high profile relationship with boyband pop star Justin Timberlake ended. Both Britney and Justin have kept the details of their break up quiet, even 15 years later.
Britney Ever After
In 2017, Lifetime released a made for TV biopic about Britney’s early days of pop stardom, dramatizing aspects her highly public teenage and young adult years. One of the topics covered in the film was her relationship and break up with Justin. The movie alleges that Britney may have cheated on Justin with her choreographer. The film also suggests that Britney’s fame eclipsing Justin’s caused tension between the pair. All we really know is that Justin wrote “Cry Me A River” in response to the break up.
Jamie And Lynne Say Goodbye
2002 saw the end of another relationship too, that of Britney’s parents, Lynne and Jamie Spears, who finally divorced after 30 years of marriage. Britney at the time told reporters that she was actually happy about the split, calling it, “the best thing that’s ever happened to my family.” She followed up with, “My mom and dad, bottom line, do not get along. When I was a baby, they argued.” “Argued” is certainly putting it lightly considering the number of times it came to blows.
Branches Of Failure
To top off Britney’s tumultuous 2002, she opened a restaurant called Nyla in New York City, but the restaurant went bust in less than half a year, prompting Britney to ditch the venture. She blamed the restaurant’s failure on mismanagement. It seems at the time she was in over her head with all of her different projects, though she also blamed the management staff for not keeping her fully informed of operations. How she would have had the time to devote to running a restaurant is unclear.
Jamie Lynn Makes It
In 2004, Lynne achieved another milestone, locking Jamie Lynn into a deal with Nickelodeon to develop a show around her youngest child. Jamie Lynn went on to star in the show, Zoey 101, as Zoey Brooks, a preteen attending a boarding school out in California. The series ran for 4 seasons, though Jamie Lynn was forced to take a hiatus in 2007. The series wrapped in 2008, but that was not the end of the line for little sister Jamie Lynn.
Bells Keep Ringing
As her younger sister was celebrating professional success, Britney started making headlines for her personal conduct, first eloping with childhood friend Jason Alexander, a marriage that was annulled after only 55 hours, followed soon after by her marriage to Keven Federline, one of her backup dancers. Despite the clear signs that Britney was heading for disaster, her parents never commented on her relationships, either way. Lynne later said she thought Britney’s managers and dancers knew her better than she did, absolving herself of being absent when needed most.
Crawling Towards A Crisis
Britney’s marriage to Keven Federline spawned a reality show, in the shadow of Jessica Simpson’s Newlyweds, as well as two sons, born only a year apart. Britney was cracking under the pressure, and surprised everyone for filing for divorce only a few months after her second child was born. It was the break up of her marriage that tore her apart and sent her into a highly public mental breakdown, which included Britney shaving her head, among other incidents.
The Danger Of Sycophants
Britney’s feelings towards her parents also soured at the time, when they finally stepped in to get her treatment. Britney was admitted into a psychiatric care facility to stabilize and detox from all the substances causing her trouble, but she didn’t feel gratitude towards her parents. In fact, she blamed them for leading her down this road to begin with. Their rift culminated with Britney serving her mother with a restraining order to keep her away from her two sons.
Don’t Forget Jamie Lynn
The Spears family couldn’t seem to escape the struggle train in 2007, with the announcement that 16 year old Jamie Lynn was pregnant. Britney only heard the news via the paparazzi, so deep with the rift with her parents. In early 2017, Jamie Lynn spoke out about the stressful time in her life, sharing that she took the test in a gas station bathroom, and that she was so scared to tell her parents, she could only manage to write her mother a note.
Failing As Role Models
As the paparazzi shifted to cover Jamie Lynn’s own controversy, she felt forced to make a public statement, telling TLC in 2017, ““I did feel responsible for the young girls and the mothers who I probably confused and let down. I apologize for that. But I wasn’t trying to glamorize teen pregnancy. I hated when [the tabloids] said that. Everybody is dealt a hand of cards. It was my choice to play them the way I played them.”
Jamie Takes Over
At the height of Britney’s crisis, she lost nearly everything. Some sources claim that Britney’s father Jamie was given conservatorship over her not only because she was incapable of managing her estate, but because her breakdown meant the money stopped rolling in. At the time, it was the only connection she had to her family, since she even lost custody of her children temporarily. Thankfully for Britney, she reconciled with her family shortly before the birth of Jamie Lynn’s daughter.
Jamie’s Demons Revealed
In 2007 and 2008, Britney was vocal about blaming her troubles on her father Jamie, despite him taking control of her life when she couldn’t. Britney had reason for the indictment of her father. For most of her life up until that time, Jamie Spears had been a violent alcoholic, instilling much fear and anxiety into the young Britney. He also seemed to pass along a predisposition to addiction, modeling for Britney exactly the wrong ways to cope with stress.
Jamie’s brother, Willie, shared several stories of his brother’s uncontrollable rages that clearly had a detrimental effect on shaping Britney’s childhood. He recalled another incident in an interview with The Mirror, “Another time I was at the house and Jamie walked in drunk and called Lynne a bad name. She was in the kitchen drinking water and he grabbed the glass, walked into the lounge and just hurled it. It was rough, but the sad thing is that it became normal life.”
Taking A Gamble
Jamie Spears’s personal problems weren’t limited to his unhealthy relationship with alcohol, he also struggled with a gambling addiction, spending his meager earnings on poker games. He lost frequently, which became a vicious cycle of losing money, drinking away the shame, followed by losing more money. Both his rampant losing and drinking fueled his rages. It was so bad that Lynne even sought a restraining order when she filed for divorce the first time, as she feared physical harm.
Checking Out And Checking In
Rather than staying involved with his two daughters’ careers in 2004, Jamie Spears finally checked himself into a rehab facility. It is likely that his time dedicated to treating his own troubles is what allowed him to be finally step in and help his daughter in 2008. Jamie also claimed that their shared experiences dealing with substances has been a point of bonding for the pair, as he can relate to the feeling of losing all control.
Capitalizing On Controversy
In 2008, the same year Lynne Spears’s tell all book about her troubled family was released, Britney called her estranged mother “poisonous” in a profile of the pop star published in Rolling Stone. According to the article, Lynne’s so called “efforts” to help her daughters are even more insidious than publishing a book to capitalize on their struggles; she also sold photos of a then pregnant Jamie Lynn to Ok! Magazine for $1 million and convinced Dr. Phil to visit Britney’s hospital room.
Building New Industries
Britney’s shortcomings were such big money makers that some reporters recall being told that literally everything she did at the time was headline news. The phenomenon even inspired a Pakistani man, Sheeraz Hasan to established a paparazzi empire just to keep up with the flailing starlet when he saw her antics plastered all over magazines even in the Middle East, which was currently in the throes of the Iraq War. The fact that Britney managed to recover from her breakdown is nothing short of a miracle.
A Career Change For Jamie
Jamie Lynn mostly quit acting prior to the birth of her daughter, but she was not done with show business forever. She moved out to Nashville in order to avoid being put under the same kind of scrutiny as her sister, and started planning her next move: becoming a country music star. She told TLC, “Even though I was out of the spotlight, I was working very hard on creating a great song catalogue and setting some real cemented foundation for a future for us.”
Can Happiness Last?
The whole of the Spears clan finally got a break following Britney’s recovery. She is still one of the highest paid female performers, and has seemed to find love at last. Her parents even reconciled 8 years after their 2002 divorce. As for Jamie Lynn, though she split with baby daddy Casey a few years after daughter Madison’s birth, she married another Jamie, Jamie Watson in 2014. But recent headlines have called her parental judgement into question. Trouble, it seems, is always on the horizon for the Spears family.
Jamie Lynn came under fire recently when it was revealed that her 8 year old daughter was involved in a horrifying accident on an ATV, nearly drowning. Though her parents and grandparents were watching her closely, she flipped her vehicle while trying to avoid a ditch and ended up submerged in a pond. A rescue team was dispatched immediately, removing her from the water. She regained consciousness after a couple of days in the hospital. The family is relieved and amazed by her miraculous recovery.