I don’t remember why I decided to download Jamie Lynn Spears’ book, Things I Should Have Said. I am a little too old to appreciate music by Jamie Lynn’s famous older sister, Britney Spears, whose pop music career was flourishing during Jamie Lynn’s childhood. I am definitely too old to appreciate Jamie Lynn’s turn as an actress on the Nickelodeon shows, All That and Zoey 101. Amazon.com tells me that Jamie Lynn’s book was published January 18, 2022, and I bought it two days later. It was probably because a year ago, the Internet was all abuzz about Britney Spears, as she was engaged in a legal battle to end a conservatorship that their father, Jamie Spears, had arranged after Britney had some very public mental health meltdowns in 2008. The conservatorship lasted thirteen years, during which many of Britney’s basic freedoms were severely curtailed, even as she was forced to work, and even had to pay the people who were oppressing her. I likely got caught up in the drama of all of that, even though I had long since moved on from it by the time I finally picked up and started reading Things I Should Have Said a few days ago.
Jamie Lynn Spears is the youngest child of Jamie and Lynne Spears. She writes that she was an “oops” baby. Her father had supposedly had a vasectomy, but never went for a follow up check. Obviously, the procedure didn’t take, and he got Lynne pregnant in 1990. Jamie Lynn was born in McComb, Mississippi on April 4, 1991. She claims that even though she was an “oops” baby, she was cherished by her older brother, Bryan, and big sister, Britney. But then she made statements that seemed to refute the idea that she was cherished. Father James was a notorious alcoholic, and he would “take off” when things at home got too rough. Mother Lynne was very focused on Britney’s budding career as a pop music phenomenon. Jamie Lynn’s parents divorced in 2002, but both remained involved in her life.
As Jamie Lynn grew up, she bore a striking resemblance to her older sister and demonstrated acting talent. At the age of 13, she started going to California to work for Nickelodeon, first on All That, and then on her own series, Zoey 101. When she was at home in Kentwood, Louisiana, Jamie Lynn hung out with her friends and dated Casey Aldridge (called Casper in the book). The two had a sexual relationship, and at age sixteen, Jamie Lynn was pregnant, like a lot of teenagers in Deep South states. The difference between Jamie Lynn and the other teens was, Jamie Lynn was famous and had money. Her pregnancy was all over the news, with many people speculating that it was the reason her show on Nickelodeon ended. Jamie Lynn writes that, actually, the show had already ended by the time she got pregnant with her older daughter, Maddie Briann, who was born on June 19, 2008.
Jamie Lynn tried to make a relationship with “Casper” work, but it was impossible, as according to her, he was always running around, using drugs, and having sex with other people. Jamie Lynn threw herself into being a mother, buying her first home in Liberty, Mississippi when she was still a teenager. She felt she had to threaten her parents with filing for legal emancipation, as she wanted to make decisions for herself and her daughter. As she was trying to make things work with her “baby daddy”, she met her husband, Jamie Watson, who is ten years her senior. They dated on and off, until it became apparent that they would be a couple. Meanwhile, Jamie Lynn decided to take a stab at making music. She moved to Nashville and tried to learn the ropes of songwriting, playing guitar, and singing.
She released an EP, but then moved back to Louisiana, where she eventually married Jamie Watson in 2014. In 2017, Maddie was in a terrible ATV accident that almost killed her. After Maddie recovered, she asked Jamie Lynn to have another baby, a request that she and Jamie obliged. Jamie Lynn and Jamie now have a daughter named Ivey Joan, who was born in 2018. According to Jamie Lynn’s book, Jamie Watson plans to legally adopt Maddie, as they have a “special” relationship. When Jamie proposed to Jamie Lynn, he also proposed to Maddie, complete with a ring (BARF).
I’m not super impressed by Things I Should Have Said. I don’t think it’s particularly well written. Jamie Lynn has a habit of using big words that aren’t quite appropriate for what she’s trying to convey. The end result is a bit contrived and stilted, rather than engaging. I found myself rushing to get through the book, as I didn’t find her story that interesting. It probably could have been interesting, had she hired a ghost writer. Jamie Lynn Spears frequently reminds her readers that she’s very talented, as in she repeatedly states this in her manuscript. But I’m afraid writing with flair isn’t really one of Jamie Lynn’s gifts. The book isn’t terrible, but it’s not definitely not among the best memoirs I’ve ever read. She’s no Paulina Porizkova. 😉
Anyone looking for dishing about Britney Spears would probably do well to skip this book, as Jamie Lynn doesn’t reveal that much about her sister. She keeps her comments about Britney mostly respectful and loving, and offers a few even-keeled insights about Britney’s controversy, reminding readers that she’s in a position to see what’s going on for herself, rather than speculating about it due to media reports. One of the issues that came up regarding Jamie Lynn and Britney was about Britney’s allegedly erratic behavior that involved Britney threatening her sister with a knife. Jamie Lynn also mentions that she had to enforce boundaries with Britney during the height of the COVID pandemic. But she doesn’t offer a lot of commentary about Britney’s situation; the book really is mostly about Jamie Lynn and her career.
In some ways, I felt some compassion for Jamie Lynn. I’m the youngest in my family, and I was also an “oops” baby, with sisters who are 8, 11, and 13 years older than I am. I know how it feels to be in that position. I also had an alcoholic father, although my dad wasn’t one to “take off” at random intervals. I do feel like her stabs at entering what she calls the “family business” were kind of half-hearted, as most of the energy her parents expended toward developing their daughters’ show biz careers went to Britney.
Jamie Lynn spent three years acting on Nickelodeon, then got pregnant… then she made a stab at music, which netted an EP. It pales compared to what Britney has done, and I would imagine that causes Jamie Lynn some angst. She also writes that her parents were pretty strict and religious, yet Jamie Lynn still managed to get “knocked up” as a teenager. She writes that having Maddie at age seventeen “saved” her from becoming a dysfunctional actress, succumbing to the issues that performers deal with, like drug abuse, eating disorders, and other mental health problems. It seems to me that there are other ways to avoid such a fate, rather than becoming a teen mom. I don’t think that’s a route I would recommend, even though Jamie Lynn at least had the financial ability to take care of her daughter, even if she really wasn’t mature enough.
I’m not sure what Jamie Lynn plans for her future, but for now, she is Mrs. Jamie Watson, mother of two. I’m hoping that she keeps an eye on Maddie, because Maddie has some pretty strong genetic ties to dysfunction. Her grandfather, Jamie, and her biological father, Casey, both have drug and alcohol issues. Her Aunt Britney also has well-publicized mental health issues. Maddie will be fifteen on her next birthday, which is prime time for her to act like a teenager. I just hope she doesn’t end up in the same situation Jamie Lynn was in when she was sixteen.
I also didn’t get the best impressions of Jamie Watson… sorry to say. Obviously, I don’t know the man personally, and it doesn’t matter what my opinions of him are. I’m not the one who is his wife or the mother of his child. But I did feel moved enough to save a couple of quotes from Jamie Lynn’s book that I shared with friends…
Those who have been following my blog for awhile might remember a few years ago, when I wrote about how I don’t approve of the trend of potential stepfathers “proposing” to their stepdaughters. At the time I wrote that post, NASCAR driver Brian Scott was in the news for “marrying” his now wife, Whitney’s three year old daughter, Brielle, biological daughter of fellow NASCAR driver, Sean Caisse. I wrote about why I really don’t think those kinds of proposals are a good idea. My reason is mainly because those kinds of displays are usually more for the adults than the children, especially the ones who are very young and don’t know what’s going on, as Brielle was at the time. I also know that, unfortunately, divorce is pretty common in remarriages, particularly when stepchildren are involved. Presenting a little girl with a ring and offering to “marry” her too, seems like a sweet gesture, but it can end up being very hurtful if there is a divorce. Moreover, I just don’t think it’s appropriate, as marriage is a very different relationship than a parental relationship is. I’m much more impressed with stepfathers who simply love and care for their stepchildren, rather than trying to replace their biological parents, even if that is what later happens in the relationship.
I got a couple of nasty comments on that piece, as Sean Caisse had some trouble with the law and wound up incarcerated. One reader who cowardly called herself “BlogWastedMyTime” declared my article “crap”, and very rudely pointed out that Caisse had been arrested, accusing me of not “doing my research”. Below was the exchange, which I remember posting as I waited for a flight from Vienna to Stuttgart.
There was another comment from a guy who had two ex wives, and felt I was being too “negative” about people who “marry” their stepchildren. I told him that I was only sharing my opinion on my blog, and I was sorry he didn’t like my opinions, as I matter of factly explained that he joins a long list of people who don’t like my opinions. Deal with it. Anyway, my thoughts on this didn’t evolve in a vacuum. I have what I think are good reasons for feeling the way I do.
As regular readers might know, my husband was married to a woman who asked him to be the “daddy” to her son from her first marriage, which he was happy to do for as long as he was still in Ex’s favor. Bill went as far as giving the boy his last name– or really, Ex claimed it and Bill didn’t argue with her about it– and paying $850 a month in child support for him until he was 21 fucking years old. For that effort, the young man tried to change his name in secret as he still took Bill’s financial support– he didn’t even tell Bill about changing his name, as he continued to call him “Dad”. And when Bill confronted his former stepson about this, he was chastised… as if a “dad” shouldn’t know what his “son’s” legal last name was, even as said “son” was claiming to be Bill’s next of kin. Now, he doesn’t speak to Bill at all, although he might be talking to his bio dad, who didn’t pay any child support after Bill came into the picture. Ex got them back together as a means of being spiteful to Bill. Bill didn’t mind, by the way, as the boy never should have lost access to his real dad, or his dad’s financial support. And now he knows that Ex lied about #1, anyway.
When Bill and Ex divorced, Ex did the same thing to Bill that she did to #1, and tried to erase his presence in his daughters’ lives. She made them call #3 “Dad”, and forced them to write letters disowning Bill. Then, when younger daughter turned 18, she pressured them into getting their names legally changed to #3’s last name. Younger daughter has since told us how distressing it was for her growing up, not to be able to have a relationship with her real father, especially since it’s very clear that #3 doesn’t care about her the way Bill does, and always has. To this day, even though she and Bill are now in touch and talk regularly, Ex still tries to influence younger daughter away from having a relationship with Bill, who is younger daughter’s real dad in all senses of the word. We are grateful that she has good sense, and can think for herself about these things.
I do understand that not all situations are as extreme as Bill’s has been. From what Jamie Lynn writes, Casey Aldridge has not been a very involved father, although he did see Maddie occasionally and, when she had her near fatal ATV accident, he did visit her and pray for her. Jamie Lynn claims that Maddie wanted Jamie to adopt her, and she has tried to explain to her what that would mean. But I have my doubts that the idea was entirely Maddie’s, and given the dysfunction in the Spears family, I would be concerned about the permanence of Jamie Lynn’s marriage. That’s just my opinion, of course, and it’s based on what I’ve seen in my 50 years of life. I know every situation is different, and it’s not my business, anyway. But yeah, I’m not a fan of the whole “marrying your stepchildren” trend. I think marriage proposals are for adults, and should be left to future love interests of the children, not to their stepfathers. Besides, there’s quite a double standard at play. Imagine if stepmothers started trying to “marry” their stepsons. Yikes! Or if stepfathers started giving their stepsons “engagement rings”.
Below are a few quotes from Jamie Lynn’s book about Jamie Watson’s adoption of Maddie…
Maddie started to talk about changing her last name to Watson. Her determination bordered on demand. We explained she didn’t understand the lengthy process of adoption and that changing her name meant that she would give up the name Aldridge for the rest of her life. She insisted she did in fact understand, and it was important to her that she share our name.
Spears, Jamie Lynn. Things I Should Have Said (p. 165). Worthy. Kindle Edition.
We spoke several times with Casper, who at first felt like we were pushing him out of her life. Eventually I was able to convince him I was speaking for Maddie. She wanted to share our family name and feel connected to us. It took a few weeks for Casper to relent. After Maddie’s initial interviews with mediators, Casper felt, if not good, at least satisfied Maddie would be happier this way. The process took months and coincided with the arrival of Ivey Joan. We encouraged Casper to remain in all our lives. Sadly, as months passed, he found himself in legal trouble again and again, and he disappeared once more.
Spears, Jamie Lynn. Things I Should Have Said (pp. 166-167). Worthy. Kindle Edition.
I do think that sometimes, having a stepparent adopt a child really is the right thing to do, particularly if the other bio parent really is “gone” from the child’s life. If anything, being the legal parent makes it easier to make legal and medical decisions for the child in one’s care. I just don’t think the public declarations, especially at weddings, are necessarily a good idea. It does sound like Jamie Watson has been a good father figure to Maddie, and that’s commendable. I hope it stays that way, although even with a name change, Maddie is still going to be another man’s bio daughter. There is no changing that fact.
I’ve also seen people like Ex use the “sperm donor bio dad” stereotype in their parental alienation campaigns. I know for a fact that a lot of fathers are pushed out for convenience sake, or because their exes don’t want them in their lives anymore. It has little to do with the actual welfare of the children, and is really more about being vengeful and hateful to the other parent and trying to deny past mistakes. I can’t help it… dealing with Ex has given me very strong opinions on this issue. But, no matter what, I would totally cringe if I’d had children when Bill proposed to me, and Bill had presented them with rings, too. I don’t like that practice at all. What if the girl says “no” to the proposal? Will her wishes really matter? And what little girl doesn’t get excited when someone gives them a gift? So, that whole “stepdaughter wedding ring” gesture, to me, is just kind of hokey and inappropriate, especially when it’s done very publicly. Again– just my opinion.
Anyway… I don’t think reading Things I Should Have Said has made me more of a Jamie Lynn Spears fan. I’ve certainly read worse books, but this one could have been much better than it is. I see that it gets 3.5 stars on Amazon. I think I’d give it three stars, and recommend it to Jamie Lynn’s fans, who will likely enjoy it more than I did. Now, I’m happy to have moved on to my next book, by Andre Leon Talley… It’s definitely more my speed. 😉
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