The following is a reprint of an article that first appeared in the AHHerald’s Lemonade Stand column written by Carol Barbieri on March 25, 2004

“I believe that children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be”

-Linda Creed

It’s been sad to watch a woman like Whitney Houston spiral down over the years, into a world of drug and alcohol abuse and domestic violence.  It’s even sadder when you think about her 10-year-old daughter, Bobbi Kristina, who now needs to be in the care of her grandmother, Sissy Houston, until Whitney is released from a drug rehabilitation center and her father, Bobby Brown, is released from police custody.

Whitney needs to clean up her act, if for nothing else, to show her daughter that she’s capable of becoming, once again, the woman who she used to be. 

And what a woman she was!  In 1985, her debut album, Whitney Houston, was an historic success.  Shortly after its release, sales topped 14 million copies.  It became the all-time best selling debut album in the United States, as well as the most successful solo album by any black female artist.  It remained in the Number 1 spot for fourteen weeks and was in the Top 40 for over a year.  One magazine was quoted as saying that it would take “an act of congress” to keep her from becoming a megastar.  They were right.

Remember that Whitney?  The girl with the looks, the charm, the poise, the talent, the strength, the dignity, and the class of a goddess?  The woman who was in charge of her career, her life, her voice, her mind, soul and body?

What happened to that Whitney? 

Maybe she married “bad boy” Bobby Brown, and that’s what happened to her.

I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that, ever since she hooked up with that guy, her life has become nothing but trouble.  I know that it’s unfair to blame anyone for somebody else’s problems (I mean, Whitney does have a mind of her own), but Bobby doesn’t strike me as being the type of man who would be the “wind” beneath Whitney’s “wings.”  The total opposite, in fact.  He seems like the kind of guy who, if he were about to be flushed down a toilet, he’d grab the arm of a woman like Whitney and take her right down with him.

I wonder what Sissy Houston thought when Whitney brought Bobby home to “meet Mom.”  He’s not exactly the “boy-next-door” type of guy I’d like to see my daughter dating, especially if my daughter was Whitney Houston.  His police record reads like aMiami Vice script:  drug possession, drunk driving, battery, sexual battery, spousal abuse, probation violation, and refusal to take a drug test.  He was just released from a jail in one state so that he could attend a child support hearing in another. 

If I were Sissy, I’d be dreaming of a son-in-law more like Sidney Poitier in To Sir With Love or Denzel Washington in Malcolm X.  But Bobby Brown?  He would rank somewhere on the bottom of the “Z” list of prospective sons-in-law I’d like to have over for dinner.

I never understood Whitney’s attraction to Bobby in the first place.  Did you?  I mean, here’s this girl who’s got everything going for her, the most important thing being that she was special.  She was unique.  She was exceptional.  She had that indefinable “something” that makes a man know instantly that he could travel the world a thousand times over and never meet another woman like her.

Men like Bobby Brown, however, are a “dime bag” a dozen.  Bobby knows that.  And maybe that’s the problem.  When Whitney “decided long ago, never to walk in anyone’s shadow,” she probably never anticipated marrying a man who couldn’t accept standing in hers.

When I heard that Whitney entered a drug rehabilitation center last week, I wanted to stand up on my couch and cheer!  After all, it takes guts to admit that you have a problem and even more guts to start taking the steps to solve it.  But I was even happier for her daughter, because in her short time on earth, Bobbi Kristina never got to know her mother the way she was – her real mother.  Not the mother who’s been living in a drug-induced stupor, staggering through public appearances, starving herself to death, and allowing her husband to use her as a punching bag.  Bobbi Kristina never got to experience, firsthand, what a remarkable role model her mother could be, not only for her daughter, but for all the young girls out there who looked up to her and wanted to emulate her – both professionally and personally. 

I wonder if Whitney knows how many girls (besides her daughter) she’s disappointed over the years by veering off of The Road to Success.  She can’t do anything about that now, but, by entering a rehab and cleaning up her life, she can show them all that, although it’s human to fall, it’s divinely more admirable to pick yourself up again.

Whitney may have temporarily “lost her dignity,” but now she’s got another opportunity to find it again.  Maybe her daughter’s “laughter” will “remind” her of how she used to be and she’ll find “the greatest love of all” inside herself again.

I hope that Whitney will work hard to become the kind of mother that her daughter will “look up to.” Every parent owes their child that.  And since parents are the most influential role models their children will ever have, it’s more important to “teach them well” by our example than anything else. 

I can’t help but think that, after Whitney is sober, she’s going to take a good, hard look at Bobby Brown and wonder what in the world she’s doing with him.  I hope she asks herself, “Would I want my daughter to marry someone like him?”  If the answer is a resounding “NO!” then maybe her problems are going to be a lot easier to solve than she thinks they are right now.

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Allan Dean

Allan Dean is editor, publisher, and founder of the Atlantic Highlands Herald. Published since 1999 and selected in 2000 by the Borough of Atlantic Highlands as one of their official newspapers, making...