If there is a better argument for keeping children light-years away from showbusiness than Lindsay Lohan, please pass it on — I’ll add it to the mountainous collection of ammunition I bring out any time someone tells me my pretty daughter should get into modelling or my funny son “should be on the stage”.
Twenty-four-year-old Lohan’s desperately depressing fall from grace, topped off by her prison sentence for parole violation this week, is a lesson to every zealous parent pushing their young child into a world obsessed with diet, youth and money.
There is simply no less healthy a place for anyone below the age of 16 to be.
Like most people, I first saw Lohan as an 11-year-old in 1998’s The Parent Trap, and was knocked out by her.
She was the ideal pre-teen — smart but not smart-assed, open and trusting, full of energy and enthusiasm and optimism. I remember thinking: if I ever have a daughter, I’d like her to be like that.
Well thank God the big man in the sky wasn’t listening, because Lohan’s life has become a car crash and, as her once-bright career is sucked under the sea of ambulance-chasers addicted to gawping at it, the chances of her emerging in a fit state look increasingly unlikely.
Lohan didn’t arrive on set of The Parent Trap the innocent and sunny kid she appeared to be (she really was a damn good actor). Her home life was messy, with her parents separating, reuniting, then separating again.
She has said: “I was put between my mother and father a lot.”
If that sounds like rubbishy parenting, it won’t come as a surprise to hear that Lohan and her younger siblings were all ‘encouraged’ into the TV and film industry from very early ages, with Lohan modelling professionally from the age of three.
From then on, Lohan’s parents have acted with intermittent selfishness, stupidity and egotism.
Her father, dodgy jailbird/businessman Michael Lohan, has behaved particularly badly, including releasing private phone calls between him and his daughter to the media last year.
Lohan has now cut him out of her life, calling him “crazy” and admitting he “scares” her.
Fighting to focus your child on his or her appearance and bank book from toddlerhood onwards might not guarantee an adolescence of booze and drug addiction, endless stays in rehab clinics, severe bouts of depression and a criminal record, as it did for Lindsay Lohan, but it makes it a hell of a lot more likely.
So if your teenager does enjoy any success, as Lohan did after hailed performances in Freaky Friday and Mean Girls, and attempts to spend her burgeoning years like most of her peers — partying, experimenting with relationships and making the odd fool of herself — you can expect her every mistake to be photographed and published around the world.
At the most sensitive and vulnerable time of her life, she will be criticised and scrutinised, gossiped about and maligned by a multitude of strangers.
And she will be encouraged to prioritise long hours, constant travel, loneliness and skinnyness over her health at every turn.
Maybe prison is the safest place for Lindsay Lohan.
Away from the prying paps, the cocktail of prescription drugs, the greedy managers and the idiotic parents, she might have a chance to get her head together.
I for one wish the freckle-faced kid all the luck in the world.