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Talking With My Kids About Whitney Houston

Julie Samrick
Kid Focused

Leaving my son's basketball game, I gasped along with the rest of the world when I looked at my phone and read the shocking news:  "Whitney Houston Dead at 48."  My kids were all with me and so they naturally asked, "What?!" of my outburst.

I immediately thought of shying away from the topic of drugs with them; I thought about acting like I didn't know how she passed.  And as of this writing, it hasn't even been confirmed drugs are the culprit, yet a healthy person rarely just dies so young.  We do know Houston had been in the news in recent years for her erratic behavior and admitted drug use.

I thought of Elvis and Michael Jackson's early deaths as well, and the sad, common denominator those talented, tortured souls shared: they all abused their bodies and died much too young.

I talked with my kids (ages 3, 5, 8 and 9) about fame and how it's hard sometimes for people to cope when the spotlight isn't always shining on them.  It's hard to cope when the spotlight IS shining on them too.  And of course, there are millions of every day folks who seek solace in drugs, not just iconic figures like Elvis, Michael Jackson, and Whitney Houston.

It was also a lesson in we never know what's really going on behind closed doors- sometimes when it seems someone has it all, we may not see what's really going on in their lives.

I told them God gives us all special gifts and talents we are to share with the world and we should never squander those precious gifts.

The little girl in me flashed back to my own youth- to what a beautiful, classy, inspiration Whitney Houston was to me and legions of other children of the 1980s.  I had a hard time comparing her talent, her soaring, incomparable voice to anyone alive today my kids would know.... What a shame.

Julie Samrick is a stay-at-home mom to 4 young children and the founder of Kid Focused, a site for children and family issues today.  Subscribe to the free Kid Focused newsletter, delivered weekly to your inbox.   Permission granted for use on

Tags: Addiction, Alcoholism, Health, Parenting
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