Keeping Mum

Dita De Boni looks at the trials and tribulations of being a parent.

Paris on Michael

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More shocking than the death of Michael Jackson, perhaps, was the fact that his daughter made her public debut in front of a television crowd of about 31 million people.

Certainly of all the moving performances at this week's LA funeral, the appearance of Paris Jackson must be at the top.

It was really so real, the way she complimented her daddy on his great parenting skills and expressed her love for him - so simple, and so effective, cutting cleanly through the hype and saccharine that inevitably swamps any funeral, especially one held for showbiz royalty.

I had always thought MJ's children were part of an elaborate ruse to appear normal in a life that was anything but. Conceived artificially, carried by a woman who appeared happy to take millions in exchange for handing over the babies in the delivery room without a second thought, brought up by MJ's entourage, and dragged through exotic lands and exclusive department stores in an ever-increasingly bizzare array of masks and headdresses (which actually drew attention to his kids, rather than kept them under wraps). I, like most people, thought, how sad for those kids. Like their father, they don't know a normal life.

But several accounts suggest the children are happy, well adjusted and well behaved.

They certainly seemed normal at the funeral, especially in contrast to the sunglass-bedecked, plastic surgery-obsessed Jackson clan.

Perhaps Michael Jackson's love of children was absolutely genuine and although it seemed to inspire several albums of wuss-rock from the formerly outstanding talent in later years, one can see in Paris Jackson a glimpse of the man who was able to overcome his beginnings to become a loving and devoted father.

Not devoted enough to clean himself up and ensure he'd be around for a long time, but still.

Was the Jackson clan right to allow Paris to talk at her father's funeral like that, up on stage in front of millions?

According to a veritable avalanche of expert opinion on the subject, allowing a child to express their feelings at the funeral of a loved one can be a valuable experience as long as they are doing it of their own free will.

While in days gone by children were seen and not heard, even at the death of their own mother or father, today's insistence on children taking centre stage in everything might seem over the top - even, in the case of Paris Jackson, exploitative.

But although her minders will have to shield her from the world's spotlight as a result of her turn at this week's funeralpallooza, she may, in the future, be glad she was able to tell the world exactly what she thought of her dad - a view that feels somehow more weighty than a thousand lurid media tales.

If she has helped rehabilitate the reputation of her dad in even a few public minds, she's also done his legacy a great favour.

Video: Michael Jackson's daughter Paris speaks at memorial

- Dita De Boni

Pictured above: Michael Jackson's daughter Paris (centre) is comforted by family members after speaking at his funeral. Photo / AP

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