Media vultures swarm around the life of Bobbi Kristina Brown as she rebelliously attempts to navigate the rocky reputations of both of her parents. The scent of self-destruction clings to her like a hand-me-down coat; they recognize it on her. Equal parts “My Prerogative” and “I Want To Dance With Somebody,” the 19-year-old daughter of Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston has grown to embody the complex nature of her parents highly publicized relationship. Naive, yet nurturing. Unstable, yet predictable. Innocent, irresponsible, intense. Her birthright lives within her as potentially poisonous as an incompatible blood type. Our hopes for — and fears of — Whitney’s legacy lives within our fragile expectations of her daughter; forcing so many of us to cover our eyes and watch her through spread fingers, both repelled and drawn to what happens next.
Unfortunately, with the unexpected death of her mother still being processed, “Krissy” has plunged head first into the scripted reality of The Houstons: On Our Own with loved ones who, instead of throwing her a life raft, profit from her inexperienced, alcohol laced attempts to keep her head above water.
In the surreal days immediately following Whitney’s death, as everyone surrounding the legend pretended not to know that she was still a drug addict, Bobby Brown’s sister, Leolah Brown, shared her feelings that her sister-in-law did not die of natural causes — and that her niece was surrounding herself with people who would eventually take advantage of her or do her harm:
“I am concerned about my niece Bobbi Kristina, yes,” Leolah told Access Hollywood. “Krissy is not safe right now. I want to say to Krissy that it’s very, very, very important that she does not trust anybody at this time. Anybody except her father, her grandmother Cissy and myself. And I mean that.
“Right now is the time to just really shut the door.”
The woman’s warning was tossed aside as jealous trash, nothing more than an attention grapping tactic meant to focus the spotlight on her – if only for a second. And while I would never suggest that Bobbi Kristina’s family would do her harm, it is very clear that they enable her destructive behavior. She slirs and stumbles through her grief, keeping her brother turned fiancé, Nick Gordon near at all times. Her aunt, Pat Houston, puts up slight resistance, but nothing significant that deters her niece from spiraling into her mother’s living hell.
She is clearly, deeply grieving; yet the cameras are allowed to capture it all for America’s entertainment.
Clinical therapist, Viveca Latham Johnson, opines that the dynamic between Bobbi Kristina and her family is just the surface issue, while the relationship between her and Gordon holds the key to shaping how – or if — she survives this transitional period without long-lasting psychological scars.
“[This] show with her family displays their journey of walking through the grief process over their beloved mother, sister, daughter, aunt, and friend. But one has to ask is this beneficial for Bobbi Kristina. It is clear that she is still grieving, but the most concerning issue is the co-dependent relationship she has with her boyfriend/brother, Nick.
This is the type of relationship Bobbi has been exposed to in her home environment. It is evident through their interactions that it mimics the co-dependency of her parents’ relationship.
From what Johnson has observed, in her current environment, Bobbi Kristina will never be able to grieve honestly and in a way that allows her to heal.
“When an individual is in a co-dependent relationship it prevents them from really dealing with self,” says Johnson.” “Your time and energy is placed on this dysfunctional relationship because it validates your current behaviors. It prevents you from looking in the mirror and seeing your true self and embarking on the journey of change to be the best you. It is apparent that Bobbi Kristina has some issues. There is questionable substance abuse problems and signs of depression, but none of these issues can be resolved if she remains a partner in this co-dependent relationship. She needs to deal with her problems dead on — not for public consumption.”
Johnson’s observations could easily apply to Whitney Houston.
When “The Voice” began battling her demons, many people laughed at her and she was often reduced to a punch-line after years of being a diva. Still, she wanted to perform for fair-weather fans that didn’t even pretend to care past the last news cycle; and she desperately tried to claw herself back up from the bottom of her dreams, drug dependency dogging her every step.
What we see now is Bobbi Kristina, fueled by grief, hurdling down a similar path.
If her family really loves her, they will not continue to enable problematic, illegal behavior for the sake of ratings, under the guise of concern. They will not make her the new Whitney. Though the title of the show may be The Houstons: On Our Own, it is abundantly clear that they are not when every single one of them is dependent on Whitney’s memory and her child for their financial well-being.
This show is not entertainment; it is heartbreaking and potentially dangerous for a young girl at an extremely vulnerable time in her life. Hopefully, someone will enable her family to see that before it’s too late.