Congratulations on the announcement of your pregnancy. It’s wonderful that you’ve decided to have children at a young age, rather than pursue the program of so many other celebrity women who treat motherhood as a burden to be delayed until the important things like career development have been satisfied. In deciding to have children soon after your marriage, you have shown that you take the responsibilities of family seriously, and that this time around you want to go against the trend of so many other celebrity marriages which are measured in months rather than years.
No doubt, as soon as you become a parent you will discover that it is the greatest joy of life, that watching your child develop is to witness daily miracles. You will also observe your child’s vulnerability, how so utterly helpless babies are, which in turn beckons us parents to protect and nurture them even more. And maybe as you watch your child’s utter dependence on you, and how responsible you feel for your child’s welfare and safety, you may begin to understand why you have upset so many parents in America, even though you may not have meant to.
Our children are our most precious possessions, and every parent’s desire is to do everything they can to promote their child’s welfare. And many of us feel that you have gotten in the way of that, Britney. That in your unbridled pursuit of fame and fortune you have been prepared to sexualize yourself at such an early age that it could only have given the message to teens and pre-teens that the best way for a young woman to get attention is through her body rather than her brains. Many of us parents feel that there was no need for you to do stripteases, sexual simulation, and near total nudity in photo shoots, music videos and concerts when you knew young children were watching. We feel you could have acted responsibly and still succeeded as an artist. But you took shortcuts that degraded you, lost people’s respect, and corrupted our children. Yes, you became famous in the process, but at what cost?
But that’s all in the past, and I prefer to focus on the future. Now you’re going to become a mother. You’re going to face many of the same challenges that we parents have faced these past few years. You’re going to have to raise a young son or a daughter into a culture that treats them as nothing more than a market to which thongs, condoms, and violent video games can be sold. You’re going to have to contend with television and music that exposes your young kids to sadistic and misogynistic music lyrics, and that floods them with sexual images well before they’re sturdy enough to absorb them.
You’re going to be tortured over questions like whether you should even allow your child to go online, knowing you can’t control what harmful things they may see. And you’re going to be troubled by your inability to protect your child from so much poison that you just know is bad for them. And then maybe you’ll reflect on how you have helped to create that culture, and perhaps you will consider not only changing your ways, but repudiating your past.
I understand you’re about to do a reality TV show with your husband, Kevin. Might I request that you implement a new approach in the show? For example, can you please keep the sex out of it? Your intimate life with your husband is your own personal business, the more privately erotic, the less it is exposed to members of the public. You’ll be more happily married if you don’t invite us into your bedroom. Might I also ask that you please keep your clothes fully on? You’ll even discover that being more mysterious and less exposed will make the public more, rather than less, interested in you.
Finally, might I suggest that in the course of making the show you try and exhibit some exemplary feminine dignity that would rehabilitate not only you, but all the girls who look up to you? For example, can we see you reading some wholesome books or visiting libraries? Can we watch you go to church or pray? Can we see you interacting lovingly with members of your family, rather than seeing the routine TV family dysfunction? I’m not saying to overdo any of this, and I don’t want you to become a prude. I well understand that part of your celebrity is this bad-girl image. But can’t you just bring some balance to it? Can’t you make sure that healthy and life-affirming elements are represented as well?
I appreciate that you’re a really big star Britney, and that you don’t want to backslide into obscurity. But believe me when I tell you that one day when your child is all grown up, you’ll want that child to respect you. You’ll want to be a hero to your son or your daughter. And they won’t really care much that you were famous. Kids aren’t impressed with a parent’s fame. They’re too close to it to really appreciate it. Rather, they look up to their Mom and their Dad if they think they’re good people. Kids have a real strong BS detector, and if you lecture your daughter about things you don’t want her to do, but have done them yourself, you’re not going to be very effective.
Please think about this. I trust that you have a good heart, and I have faith in your ability to reawaken your conscience. And I look forward to welcoming you into the worldwide fellowship of parents.
I wish you God’s blessing in your pregnancy and married life.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach