A new book claims that Ethel Kennedy, the wife of the late Bobby Kennedy, was an inattentive parent, a quality which, in turn, lead to the various troubles of her 11 children, according to the New York Post.
Biographer Jerry Oppenheimer claims that Ethel rarely supervised her children during their youth, and never truly recovered from the 1968 assassination of her husband in new book RFK Jr: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and the Dark Side of the Dream, the Post reported.
Ethel, now 87, never remarried and raised her large brood mostly alone. Oppenheimer said, however, that the matriarch still looked at her children as merely “afterthoughts.”
The Post reported that her third-oldest child, Robert Kennedy Jr., initially turned to animals for comfort to deal with the lack of parental attention, before later falling into drug usage.
“It was incredible,” a former nanny told Oppenheimer of Ethel’s children. “There wasn’t anybody to say, ‘Don’t do that.’ It was hard to control them.”
Oppenheimer detailed RFK Jr. sparring with his mother often, and claimed their fights often resulted in verbal harassment from Ethel, according to the Post.
“Just leave home,” Ethel reportedly yelled at RFK Jr. once, after he pulled a boyish prank. “Get out of my life!”
“Her moods could swing drastically,” Oppenheimer told the Post, adding that she once “literally beat Bobby with a hairbrush.”
The author claimed that Ethel’s poor parenting led to RFK Jr. and the other children acting out. RFK Jr. was kicked out of a series of boarding schools, formed a gang with hooliagan friends, and began using drugs at only 15. Oppenheimer said that the now-61-year-old even once spat in a cop’s face.
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RFK Jr. isn’t the only member of the large family to be caught misbehaving, reported the Post.
In 1973, son Joe paralyzed his brother David’s teenage girlfriend in a car accident, the Post said. Another son, Michael, had an affair with a much-younger baby sitter in 1997. Doug, Ethel’s 10th child, was caught on camera kicking a nurse in a hospital elevator in 2012 (but was later acquitted).
According to the Post, Oppenheimer said that Ethel typically ignores her children, but shows support when necessary. Her reaction to scandal, the author wrote, is “circling the wagons to protect the cesspool.”