When he was 12, his parents separated. He moved to Oakland, CA, with his father until the age of 18. Then he moved to Chicago to be near his mother.
He was briefly married, then ended that marriage and married another woman.
He was a crane operator for a steel company, played guitar in a band with his brother, and later returned to his “day job” when the band failed to get a record deal while his wife “tended to the children.”
He discovered his children had musical talent and began to manage their budding careers. As their success increased, he reportedly required his children to call him “Joseph” instead of “father” or “dad.”
Over the years, his children told stories to the media of their dad’s physical and emotional abusiveness to them. Holding them upside down, tripping them, pushing them into walls, screaming, shouting, and frightening them are just some of the stories they relayed about their father.
One of his sons, Michael, shared that he often cried from loneliness and would sometimes get sick or start to vomit upon seeing his father. He recalled that his dad sat in a chair with a belt in his hand when he and his siblings rehearsed and that, “if you didn’t do it the right way, he would tear you up, really get you.”
Who was this dad? He was Joseph Jackson, the father of the late pop music icon Michael Joseph Jackson.
As millions around the world have followed the recent story of Michael Jackson’s death in the news and media, it’s worth reflecting on how Michael’s life, behavior, and tragic death were impacted by the violent, abusive, wounded relationship he had with his father, again reminding us of the power of influence we fathers have in the lives of our children.
According to childhood friend Brooke Shields, Michael Jackson’s favorite song (not one of his own, by the way) was called “Smile, ” which includes the line “Smile though your heart is aching.”
Life is short. Each of us must seek and find healing and recovery from the wounds of our own paternal past — whether from abuse, abandonment, or absence of our father.
And we must humbly ask forgiveness where we have blown it in our family, being diligent to re-build any lost trust and to heal wounded hearts and souls.
Let us make the most of our influence in our family for good. Because, fellow dad, only we dads have “father power.”
Image credit: Jeff Hire