Eva Amurri had a privileged childhood. Her mother is movie star Susan Sarandon, and her father is Italian director Franco Amurri. She spent her early days on the sets of blockbuster movies. She got to travel to beautiful places. She never had to want anything that could be bought with money.
Still, it was her childhood, and no one’s childhood is perfect. We all struggle. None of us got everything we needed. And so recently, Eva, who has become a talented actress in her own right, spoke about how disorienting and even painful it was to grow up in such a ‘circus’-like environment. Especially hard, she said, was the intense relationships and friendships she would make as a kid, only to see them disappear forever as each of the actors and their kids went back to their own lives when the film ended.
One can imagine this was hard for Susan Sarandon to hear. She was a working mother, a mother who had brought her children with her rather than leave them at home with someone else. It’s hard for any parent to hear that their children are in pain over something, harder still when they blame you for some of that…for something where you were doing the best that you could, or the best that you knew. But just because it’s hard to hear, doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Besides, even if you think it isn’t true, your kid does…which is all that really matters.
It’s understandable that when Susan was asked about her daughter’s comments (who she is close with and currently works with), she was more than a little defensive. Instead of saying, “I did my best, but I get it,” instead of saying, as the great Edith Eger said on the Daily Stoic podcast, “If I knew then, what I knew now, I would have done things different,” Susan tried to argue with her daughter’s feelings. “I think normal is very overrated,” she said. “I think everyone likes to go to the circus, so I don’t see any problem with that as long as all the animals don’t get too out of control. I think our life is unusual and they’re exposed to lots of [things]. I dragged them with me whenever I worked, so they went all over the globe. I think it’s one of the best things that I ever gave them, that view of their place in the world.”
That’s not how it works! You can’t argue away your kids feelings. You will never succeed in making the case that something you did that they didn’t like was actually wonderful and they should be grateful for it. You can’t gaslight them about the way something made them feel–least of all their own childhood.
You have to recognize. You have to respect. You have to listen.