Paris Jackson Gave Up Some Rare Insights Into Michael Jackson’s Parenting

Was Michael Jackson a good dad? With everything that’s been reported since the singer’s death — we won’t go there — it’s a question that will cause people to jump to a lot of conclusions. But unless you grew up under his wing, you probably aren’t properly equipped to answer it. Paris Jackson, on the other hand, knows exactly what Michael was like as a father. And she’s shared some eye-opening details about his parenting style.

Introducing Paris Jackson

Paris was born in the spring of 1998, and as she’s matured she has slowly built an intriguing career for herself. After showing an interest in penning her own music as a teenager, she eventually moved into the world of modeling, showcasing her talents there. Mind you, the King of Pop’s daughter had other ambitions, too.

Paris the actress

Yes, Paris made her acting debut in 2017 when she appeared in four episodes of the television series Stars. From there, the versatile up-and-comer then made the jump to the big screen roughly 12 months later, featuring in the movie Gringo. And if that wasn’t enough, she was cast in a brief role for Scream: The TV Series in 2019 as well.

“I love acting”

Paris touched upon that aspect of her blossoming career while chatting to British newspaper the Evening Standard in April 2021. She said, “I love acting. I definitely would love to keep doing that, and the modeling thing. The older I get and the more I do it, the more I start to actually understand fashion and the art behind it.”

Wilted

But despite working on all those projects, apparently Paris hasn’t lost the desire to create her own music. Following in dad Michael’s footsteps, she dropped her first album, Wilted, in November 2020. Still, her musical sensibilities are very different to her late father’s: you’ll find no pop here, folks!

A proud dad?

Doubtless Paris has an exciting future ahead, and something tells us that her father would be beaming with pride if he was still around. Sticking with Michael, you might be wondering what he had been up to in the lead-up to his daughter’s birth. Well, to say it was a tumultuous time in his life is still perhaps something of an understatement.

MJ’s first marriage

Going into 1996 Michael was still married to his first wife Lisa Marie Presley — Elvis’ daughter. They had surprised the world by suddenly announcing their nuptials some two years before, leaving fans stunned. How was that wedding kept a secret? Yet their time as husband and wife didn’t last forever.

A divorce and a second wedding

In January 1996 the couple called time on their relationship. But Michael didn’t have to wait long before he was married again. Yes, the King of Pop tied the knot with a woman named Debbie Rowe a few months later. She plied her trade as a nurse, in case you’re curious.

Becoming a dad

Following the wedding, Michael and Rowe went on to welcome two kids into the world. Michael Joseph “Prince” Jackson Jr. was the first, delivered in 1997. Then, his baby sister Paris arrived the next year. Yet by 1999 their parents had split up, with the music superstar taking on the role of sole guardian.

Neverland Ranch

In the wake of the divorce, Paris and her brother joined Michael at Neverland Ranch — the singer’s famous California home. It’s a huge place, spanning about 2,700 acres. It also housed facilities including a zoo, a theater and a theme park.

Missing something...

Sounds incredible, huh? Then again, throughout the seven years that Paris lived at Neverland, her life was lacking one important thing — a genuine mother figure. You see, she had no contact whatsoever with Rowe during her childhood. That couldn’t have been easy, regardless of her luxurious surroundings.

An overdue connection

Yet Paris and Rowe did eventually form a bond when the former was a teenager. They came together some four years on from Michael’s shocking death. The versatile star opened up about how that came about to her pal Willow Smith when she made an appearance on Facebook streaming show Red Table Talk in 2021.

“It’s cool”

In response to a question about their growing bond as mom and daughter, Paris beamed, “It’s cool. Like, getting to know [Rowe], seeing how similar we are, getting into what kind of music she likes, and she really likes country and folk. I sent her some of the stuff that I’m working on that have, like, banjos in them.”

“We look a lot alike”

“We look a lot alike,” Paris continued. “It’s just cool having [Rowe] as a friend. It’s very chill, which I love. It’s the perfect word to describe it.” Before all that, though, the latter part of her childhood had been very far from “chill.” Of course, we’re referring to the demise of her famous dad.

The impact of Michael’s death

When Michael passed away in 2009 Paris’ world was turned upside-down. A few weeks on from his death, she delivered a painfully raw message to the world at the pop legend’s memorial service. Unsurprisingly the youngster had struggled to hold back her tears while addressing the assembled audience at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.

The school situation

Then, roughly 12 months later Paris became a student at a private institute named The Buckley School. Why was that a big deal? Simple really. Up to that point, her entire education had come from homeschooling, so the switch proved to be a massive moment in her young life.

Dealing with loss

While Paris was going through all that personal upheaval, though, we can’t help but wonder — how did she find the time to deal with Michael’s death? Has she been able to move past it? The rising star shed some light on that particular subject during an in-depth interview with Rolling Stone magazine in January 2017.

“You just get used to it”

Paris said, “They always say, ‘Time heals.’ But it really doesn’t. You just get used to it. I live life with the mentality of, ‘Okay, I lost the only thing that has ever been important to me.’ So going forward, anything bad that happens can’t be nearly as bad as what happened before. So I can handle it.”

Michael as a father

Those words give a clear indication of how much Paris loved her dad. But what was Michael really like as a parent? Well, as we mentioned earlier, his daughter provided a few fascinating insights into their lives at Neverland Ranch in a YouTube video. 

No Filter

Paris was a guest on the No Filter YouTube series in March 2021, which is hosted by Naomi Campbell. Their chat covered a range of different topics, but arguably some of the most interesting segments related to the former’s time with Michael. The budding singer started by praising the King of Pop’s drive to broaden her horizons at a young age.

“We saw everything”

“My dad was really good about making sure we were cultured,” Paris tells Campbell. “Making sure we were educated, and not just showing us, like, the glitz and glam, like hotel hopping, five-star places. We saw everything. We saw Third World countries, we saw every part of the spectrum.”

Entitled? Nope!

That wasn’t all that Michael did for his kids, though. Later in their conversation, Paris informs Campbell that entitlement wasn’t a thing in her household. Far from it, in fact. And that’s carried over as the rising star has grown older. So regardless of her surroundings, she claims she was never spoiled.

“Earning it”

Paris reveals, “Growing up, it was about earning stuff. If we wanted five toys from FAO Schwarz or Toys ‘R’ Us, we had to read five books. It’s earning it, not just being entitled to certain things or thinking, ‘Oh, I got this.’ It’s like working for it, working hard for it. It’s something else entirely. It’s an accomplishment.”

Working hard

“I should earn everything,” Paris continues. “I go to auditions, I work hard, I study scripts. I do my thing.” And she elaborated on this point during her chat with the Evening Standard, too. You see, it wasn’t just the toys she had to work for as a kid living in Neverland.

No easy rides

Paris said, “It was very clear to us that those rides and the zoo [at Neverland] were for underprivileged children. Children who were sick and couldn’t go to Disneyland. If we were good, and we did our homework and we worked hard throughout the week, maybe we could go at the weekends, but we had to earn it.”

MJ’s influence?

Michael’s approach to parenting has also been hailed by his brother, Jermaine Jackson. Yep, he dedicated a passage of his memoir to that topic back in 2011. According to Jermaine, he believed that the King of Pop had been heavily influenced by their childhood experiences with their own mom and dad.

“What fatherhood should be”

Jermaine wrote, “[Michael was] an example of what fatherhood should be. He instilled in [his children] the love mother gave us, and he provided the kind of emotional fathering that our father, through no fault of his own, could not. Michael was father and mother rolled into one.”

A normal life?

Anyway, going back to Paris, she provided some additional details about her life with Michael at Neverland. The picture she painted was a unique mix of mundane normality and incredible privilege, with the two blending together throughout her childhood. There was no getting away from the latter, given how big a star her dad was.

Learning about food and music

Paris told Rolling Stone, “[Michael] was a kick-ass cook. He taught me how to make sweet potato pie. [He] worked with Van Halen, so I got into Van Halen. He worked with Slash, so I got into Guns N’ Roses. He introduced me to Tchaikovsky and Debussy, Earth, Wind and Fire, the Temptations, Tupac, Run-DMC.”

Shaping Paris

Sticking with that topic, Paris explained further how Michael’s passion for music had helped shape her while speaking to Campbell on YouTube. If you thought the previous list of names was something, wait until you get a load of this! Plus, the aspiring musician spoke about her own work as well.

“We grew up around all of that”

“[Michael] loved classical music and jazz,” Paris says on No Filter. “And hip-hop and R&B, and obviously the Motown stuff. But also, like, radio’s Top 40, and he loved rock music, soft rock, The Beatles. So we grew up around all of that, and I feel like all of that somehow influences my stuff.”

Crafting a sound

Paris then adds, “If you listen to my album, even there’s some movie soundtrack-like influences as well, like Hans Zimmer and Danny Elfman. As well as rock bands like Radiohead and Manchester Orchestra.” So while her music might not sound like Michael’s, his fingerprints are there. His influence is just less obvious than you’d think!

Prince Jackson

Meanwhile, someone else felt the need to shine a light on Michael’s parenting, too. Yep, Paris’ sibling Prince came forward to share his experiences in March 2021 when he appeared on an episode of YouTube channel The Mix. Much like his sister, he describes how they were surrounded by music growing up.

Wisdom

Yet something else stuck with Prince during his time at Neverland as a child. It wasn’t all about the music. You see, Michael taught him a lesson that he continues to stand by today. In truth, it’s a really cool bit of wisdom that you might want to adopt yourself!

“You never stop learning”

Prince says, “The one [lesson] that is my guiding principle is that you never stop learning. I graduated, and that doesn’t mean that I stopped learning. And my father also would say something along the lines of, ‘The minute that you stop learning is the minute that you’re going to start dying.’”

Activism

As for Paris, she also cited one of her dad’s most important bits of advice while speaking to the Evening Standard. Apparently, those words played a big role in her decision to champion certain causes — something that Michael himself used to do. And that’s not all, as we’re about to find out.

MJ’s advice

Paris informed the newspaper, “I think a huge part of [my passion for activism] was from my dad, from his work and his humanitarianism. Going back to the morals we were raised with, he instilled in us, ‘Do what you can to leave this place better than how you found it.’”

“Help them clean up!”

“That’s in terms of the bigger stuff, [like] the importance of the environment, human rights and animal rights,” Paris continued. “But [it’s] also just things like if you go over to a friend’s house and they cook you dinner, leave it better than you found it. Help them clean up!”

The future

Looking at the bigger picture, if we take all these comments at face value then it seems that Michael’s parenting style has had the desired effect on his kids. But he was also something of a father figure to Macaulay Culkin, who’s also revealed what his relationship with the singer was really like. The pair had a close but unusual relationship, to say the least.

Child star

Culkin had been a child actor since the age of four, but he shot to international fame when he was just ten years old. The 1990 Christmas movie Home Alone and its 1992 sequel made him both famous and extremely rich. But fame is a difficult thing for a young child to deal with. And it seemed that his father Kit Culkin had more of a say in things than he did.

Father's input

In 1991, a point where the original Home Alone was the third highest-grossing film in movie history, The New York Times interviewed 20th Century Fox chairman Joe Roth. “Macaulay's father was an actor and wants to make sure his son gets the opportunity to play as wide a range of roles as possible,” he said. “He wants to be very careful with Macaulay's career. He doesn't want Macaulay just to be the boy from Home Alone.”

One trick pony?

But it seemed he would be “the boy from Home Alone” for a very long time, if not forever. None of his later films – among them The Good Son, The Pagemaster and Richie Rich – were anywhere near as financially successful. Yet his brief tenure as one of Hollywood’s biggest names had led him into the orbit of Michael Jackson.

Unlikely friendship

The pair had met when Culkin was nine and appearing in the show The Nutcracker. Jackson had gone backstage to meet him, and the pair developed a friendship which grew over the years. Jackson would take Culkin to toy stores after closing time and let him buy what he wanted. He even took him on holiday to Bermuda – without Culkin’s mom and dad being present.

Under scrutiny

This relationship came to international attention in 2005 – and not for good reasons. Michael Jackson came under investigation for child molestation. It was the second time such an accusation had been made against him; the first had been in 1993 and ended with no charges being filed. But the 2005 trial became a huge media circus.

Victim?

Culkin, who was 24 at that point and had recently been arrested for drug possession, was named as one of Jackson’s alleged victims. People who had once worked for Jackson at his Neverland ranch claimed that they had seen the singer touch the younger Culkin in an inappropriate way. It was also revealed that Culkin had, by his own admission, occasionally shared a bed with Jackson. Furthermore, Culkin’s parents supposedly knew about this and apparently didn’t mind.

“I've never seen him do anything improper"

“They never really saw [the bed sharing] as an issue,” Culkin said when he took the stand on May 11, 2005. “I knew they knew that I was in that room, and they knew I fell asleep there.” He vehemently denied that Jackson had ever made sexual advances on him, though, calling the claims “absolutely ridiculous.” “I've never seen him do anything improper with anybody,” he said.

Close knit

Culkin explained under questioning that he had always been friends with Jackson and still was. He was also friends with Jackson’s kids – Paris, Prince, and Prince Michael Jackson II aka “Blanket.” In fact, Jackson had picked Culkin to be Paris’ godfather when he was still a teenager. “I always liked seeing the kids,” Culkin told the court.

Uninformed?

“Nobody approached me and even asked whether or not the allegations were true,” Culkin said when asked how he had learned about the claims against Jackson. “They didn’t even double-check it, basically.” It was very, very clear what stance he took on the issue. And in the end, on June 13, 2005, Jackson was acquitted of all charges.

Michael's passing

However, Jackson only lived for a few years following his acquittal. On June 25, 2009, he passed away of a drug overdose, and the public outpouring of grief was enormous. Clearly, despite the allegations he had once faced, he was still a beloved public figure to many. The King of Pop was buried at Glendale Forest Lawn Memorial Park on September 3, 2009, and Culkin attended the service.

Faded interest

Subsequently, talk of the Culkin/Jackson relationship slowly faded from the media. Culkin remained a celebrity, but a more minor one, which seemed to be exactly how he liked it. But in January 2018 he decided to offer an insight into his life and the time he’d spent with Jackson. He appeared on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast and discussed it all.

Support

“After Home Alone came out, [Jackson] reached out to me and my family,” Culkin explained on the podcast. “There’s no child actor self-help group. He said, ‘Do you want to hang out? Do you want to come to my house?’ He was like my best friend growing up for a stretch of my life. It was a legitimate friendship.”

Bad intentions?

“He was like, what, 20 years older?” Maron asked. “Yeah, that sounds about right,” said Culkin. “You can get into the psychology of it, ‘Oh, he never had his childhood.’ All I can speak to is the way he was, and despite whatever the reasoning was, he liked being around kids.” “It wasn’t odd to you?” Maron questioned.

At ease

“Honestly, it never struck me as odd,” said Culkin. “I never felt uncomfortable or anything like that. […] That was the way that he was, down to his bone marrow.” “So it didn’t come off as creepy, you bought it cos it was authentic?” Maron asked. Culkin quickly corrected the host. “I didn’t buy it, it just was,” he said. “He wasn’t selling.”

Good experience

Culkin insisted that Jackson had never done anything “untoward” that he knew of. “That was not my experience at all. My mind didn’t go there. That was one of the reasons why he liked hanging around a guy like me… It never felt weird. It was just the way that it was. I looked at him for who he was.” Then the conversation turned to Jackson’s children.

Private man

Culkin made it clear he wasn’t going to discuss his relationship with his 19-year-old goddaughter Paris. “I am close with Paris,” he said, but that was almost all he would divulge. “I’m going to warn you now I am very protective of her so just look out,” he told Maron. But he did add that she was “beloved by me” and also “tall and beautiful and smart.”

Negative influence

The other interesting thing revealed in the interview was that Culkin no longer had a relationship with his father Kit. In fact Culkin had some pretty damning things to say about him. “He was just a bad dude,” Culkin said on the podcast. “A bad, abusive man. He was just a piece of work.” His father used to threaten him with physical violence as a child, Culkin alleged.

A family rift

In fact, Culkin and his siblings have commented on their father before. Speaking to the Irish Times in 2003, Macaulay’s brother Kieran described Kit as “never really a dad, he was just this guy who was hanging around.” Kit, for his part, told the Daily Mail in 2016 that he didn’t consider Macaulay to even be his son anymore.

A good life

Despite his wealth – Culkin’s reported net worth is $15 million – it’s clear that the former child actor never really had an easy life. Yet it seems his association with Michael Jackson improved his childhood, rather than made it worse. Now, at last, he seems to be in a good place. “I’m a 30-something retired person walking around with a baguette under my arm,” he told Maron. “I’m living a good life.”