Why I Love Justin Bieber.

by Leslie Morgan Steiner

 

I have a confession: I love Justin Bieber.

 

But not for the reasons my daughters do.

 

My 12 and 8 year old girls are riddled with Bieber Fever. Between the two of them, they have 64 posters of the 17-year-old teen idol on their walls. My older daughter has his life size cut-out next to her bed. “Justin” makes me scream every time I bust into her room to put away laundry or open a window for much-needed fresh air (too much nail polish and hair products in a small space). Both girls listen to his music (if you can call it that) night and day, walking around the house sporting headphones and dreamy looks.

 

Here’s why I love Justin. Although he is as innocent as a vanilla
cupcake, his life story has helped my daughters and I discuss some
unpleasant romantic realities. Way back in 1994, Justin’s mother,
Pattie Mallette, was 16. She had unprotected sex, got pregnant and
decided to keep the baby, who turned out to be Justin. (He may make a
dreamy boyfriend, but he was a baby with diapers and drool and all the
rest.) Justin’s father left the scene almost immediately. Along with
him went Pattie’s hopes and dreams for college and financial
independence (cue sappy muzak in surround-sound). Pattie and Justin lived
with her parents (horrifying to my girls who both clamor for a NYC
apartment) and then in low-income housing for over a decade. Poor little
Justin taught himself to play the piano, drums, guitar, and trumpet.
Justin’s mom worked menial, low-paid office jobs to buy them food,
shelter, clothing, and an Internet connection so Justin could post his
singing self on YouTube.

 

In 2006, when Bieber was 13, both Usher and Justin Timberlake got
interested. The Bieb moved to Atlanta with his mother and he signed a
contract with Island Records. He began making money. Lots of it. At 16,
the same age his mother became a teen mom, Justin Bieber became the
youngest solo male to hit #1 since 13-year-old Stevie Wonder did in 1963.

 

And surprise – Dad returned to the scene! Dad and Pattie finally got
married (she was 29 by this time). They had two more children together.
It quickly became apparent that money and fame – not love – fueled
Dad’s revived interest in family life. When Mom cut off the funds, Dad
left again. Leaving her again. This time with three children to support.

 

I love pop culture. Scratch the surface (and believe me I do) and
there’s nothing pop about this story. My daughters and I have had many
heartfelt conversations about the perils of romantic love and teen
pregnancy, the reality of the sacrifices involved in parenthood, and male
reluctance (sometimes understandable but always reprehensible) to be
involved, supportive, responsible fathers.