Music and film “bad girl,” Madonna, is finding out that what goes around comes around as her teenage children rebel against her controlling parenting style, according to new reports.
Despite her public persona as a wild child, Madonna has been described as “very controlling” and an “an old-school disciplinarian,” whose children are understandably having none of it.
According to Madonna biographer Lucy O’Brien, the 57-year-old performer does not play fast and loose with her parenting.
“The provocative persona she projects is incredibly controlled,” says O’Brien, “and the way she disciplines her kids is an extension of that. Her mother was an austere Catholic. That heavy-duty Catholicism is about being disciplined almost to the point of self-punishment.”
A more likely story, however, is that Madonna received very little parental input from her Catholic mother, since she died of breast cancer when Madonna was only five years old. As she candidly recognizes, her rebellion began later, when her father remarried. Her own controlling parental style comes from a strong type-A character that seeks to minimize variables and force desired outcomes.
Much of Madonna’s recent controversy swirls around a custody battle with ex-husband Guy Ritchie over their 15-year-old son Rocco. The boy currently lives with his film director father in London and has resisted his mother’s attempts to have him return to New York to live with her.
Since Madonna reportedly wished to enroll Rocco in a military school to straighten him out, his resistance is comprehensible.
A colleague of Ritchie’s said that when staying with his father, “Rocco is allowed to play guitar until the early hours of the morning. Guy does have rules, but he had zero confidence growing up and wants his son to feel as empowered as possible.”
Madonna, on the other hand, “is impossible to work with and impossible to live with for a 15-year-old boy. He has no freedom under her,” according to one source.
When staying with her, Madonna’s children are obliged to follow her strict macrobiotic diet that bans sweets and chocolate, along with dairy products, salt, and preservatives. Madonna also enforces a no-television rule and takes away her children’s clothes if they leave them on the floor.
Madonna took her custody complaint to the Manhattan Civil Supreme Court, where a judge ruled that Rocco must return to New York before the January start of school classes, but so far, he and his father have turned a deaf ear to the decision.
A hearing has been scheduled for February 3 to examine Rocco’s case, but Ritchie is “adamant” that his son should be able to choose where he resides, according to a friend of the director. For Rocco’s part, he told a friend on Instagram, “I’m staying here, bro.”
Rocco’s relationship with his mother has cooled to the point that he has now blocked her on social media, while continuing to follow his dad and stepmom. “It’s not a great sign that Rocco is blocking his mum on social media, especially after all the rumors that she was embarrassing him with her posts about him,” a source said recently.
Rocco is not Madonna’s only parenting headache, however. Her 19-year-old daughter Lourdes, the child from her brief relationship with dancer Carlos Leon, has also inherited her mother’s rebellious temperament.
Lourdes has earned a reputation for being a party animal at the University of Michigan, where she is currently studying performing arts.
“Lourdes definitely takes after her mother in many ways,” said a Madonna source. “She likes to let her hair down and party.”
Among other things, Lourdes has resolutely resisted her mother’s efforts to make her give up smoking.
When Madonna attempts to lay down the law, she is dogged by her own public past, which is no secret to her children. According to one Madonna insider, “She has found out that with her teenagers, they can easily look online and see what she got up to at their age.”
And she can hardly turn the screws too tightly on Lourdes’ academic career, since back in 1978, at the age of 19, she herself dropped out of the University of Michigan to move to New York City.
Madonna has been preaching a message of rebellion for decades now, and it is a small wonder that a little would rub off on her own children.
Sometimes in life, you just cannot have it both ways.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome.