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15 Things You Didn't Know About Britney Spears' Childhood

Britney and Jamie-Lynne Spears didn't turn out the way they did "just because." They didn't have the help and guidance kids should get as they grow up. Britney's apparent mental instability? There's a history of mental illness in her family. That "good-girl," virginal image? That was, erm, strongly encouraged and almost destroyed by her mom.

When she was younger and teetering on the edge of a mental breakdown, Britney was known for blowing up and turning the air blue with swear words.This happened mostly when things didn't happen as they were supposed to. Also, because this very public singer got sick of the crowds. Eeep! No, that scene wasn't very pretty.

Of course, the family lived in stark poverty from the time Brit was a tiny girl. Her parents can't be blamed for wanting to find a way out of having to scrounge (or literally hunt) for food. Turning a blind eye to things going on in the television studio wasn't a good way to ensure her child's safety. Nor was actually encouraging her children to spend time with older young men, who were 18 or allowing boyfriends to sleep over.

Hopefully, things have gotten better for Britney. Her dad was her conservator, responsible for all of her business and financial affairs.

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15 Her Parents Had An Unstable Marriage

Britney and Jamie-Lynn's early childhoods were far from stable and wholesome. Their parents' relationship was toxic, erupting into several loud fights. The year before Britney was born, Lynn filed for divorce from Jamie. Her reason for filing for divorce: Jamie had cheated on Lynn.

At the same time that Lynn filed the divorce papers, she requested and received a restraining order against Jamie. She was afraid of what his reaction would be when the divorce papers were delivered to him, and she didn't want him anywhere near her.

Of course, when Britney was born, Lynn pulled the divorce papers back, deciding to remain married to Jamie. Thus, Britney became the second of three Spears children: Bryan, Britney and Jamie-Lynn. But. . . this didn't mean much to the Spears parents. Their volatile and sometimes violent relationship continued in this way. Jamie kept drinking. And, as the girls grew older, Lynn continued pushing them into adult situations.

14 She Grew Up In Poverty

Dad Jamie Spears' problems with alcohol and gambling meant that he was often unable to work. Which meant he wasn't able to bring paychecks home to help support his family.

Lynn stayed at home with their three children. This meant that, if she and Jamie were going to feed their kids, Jamie had to go out into the area around their home, rifle in hand. He would shoot wildlife to eat.

Living in poverty, Lynn was determined that things would be different before long. Did she get a job of her own? No. If she had, would Jamie have agreed to her working outside the home? Good question. Instead of creating a resume and working somewhere, Lynn pinned all her, uh, maternal hopes on her daughters. THEY would be the way out of the grinding poverty holding the family down.

13 Mama Spears Used Her Daughters To Escape

Lynn wanted to find a way out of the tiny Louisiana community where she and her family lived. She wanted to find a way out of poverty. How to do that? Why, groom her daughters to become big stars! While it might take a few years for success to happen, it will happen!

Rather than just encouraging Britney to act in Disney shows, she pushed her oldest daughter to become a recording artist. Once Britney was established, she turned her sights onto Jamie-Lynn.

The whole time Britney was a little girl, Lynn ruthlessly kept her focus on her goals for her daughters. Her goals, not her daughters' goals. Maybe they didn't want to act or sing. But they got pushed. And Lynn got her dream. The family left Louisiana in its rear-view mirrors, riding Brit's coattails all the way west.

12 Underage Britney Was Pushed To Date An 18-Year-Old

Lynn's pushing on this topic didn't end with Britney just "dating" a young adult male. It extended all the way to sleeping with him. Yes, you read that right. In her road map to financial security, Lynn was crassly using her daughter's innocent beauty and V-card in continuing to get attention from Britney's fans. So, you know, the record deals and money would keep rolling in.

After leaving the Mickey Mouse Club, Britney was "encouraged" to join the cheerleading squad. Then, mom came up with that idea for Britney to date an older boy and oh, by the way, get said V-card stamped. Because that would have been statutory rape. A teen girl is not considered legally able to consent to s*xual activity until she is 17. At the time Lynn was urging Brit to date and sleep with that young man, she was 14.

11 Britney's Unstable Mental Health

Mental illness and substance abuse are a toxic brew. When the person afflicted with these problems is an 18-year-old girl, what's the answer? Psychotropic medications. Prozac, to be exact.

During the day, Britney was surrounded by family, agents and assistants. She was too busy to slide into a panic attack or depressive bout. At night, things were completely different. She was alone and all those fears of hers would come out of the dark and pounce on her. It was clear to everyone around her that Brit was falling apart and needed help fast.

Everyone who has ever followed Britney's life, even casually, is likely to remember that time when she and her life fell apart. Shaving her head was probably one of the biggest cries for help she made. Thus. . . she started taking Prozac.

10 She Nearly Burned Her Home Down

While she's not a firebug, Britney has nearly burned down her Manhattan apartment and her family's home. She loves lit candles, but forgets to blow them out. She's been fortunate that she hasn't lost her homes to disastrous fires.

Post-Big Break, Lynn bought a Lexus with Britney's earnings. While she was still in high school, Britney took the Lexus out for a drive. And crashed it. Whether it was totaled or not, we don't know.

Whether this is forgetfulness, lack of skill behind the wheel or just plain bad luck, who knows? Back in the day, the girl was a walking, talking, screaming and crying disaster. Hopefully, she has calmed down now. If she now remembers to blow out lit candles before she leaves home, so much the better. And, about crashing cars, hopefully, she took a refresher driving course.

9 Her Mom Ignored "Adults" Going On Set

Britney probably came home with news of some questionable goings-on while she was on the set of the Mickey Mouse Club. Did that faze or frighten Lynn? Not a bit! As long as Britney showed up on-set every day, said her lines and acted as directed, that meant that much-coveted money kept coming into Britney's bank account. Which made Lynn happy.

One of Britney's co-stars was none other than Ryan Gosling. And he was giving her tips to be used in the bedroom. Huh, what? She was 12 when she started her role!

In a tell-all that Lynn wrote, she mentioned that Britney began drinking at the age of 13, while she was still in the club. Take a look at a photo from Brit's days in the club. So clean-cut and innocent. Well, images don't tell the whole truth.

8 She Had To Escape To Her Aunt's Home

Kids who grow up in homes where one of their parents resorts to violence learn early what they have to do. If they want to escape the violence and the possibility they could be hurt (or worse), they have to physically escape.

This is just what Britney, Jamie-Lynn and their older brother had to do on several occasions. They would skedaddle to their aunt Chanda's trailer, which was located close to their own home.

Britney and Jamie-Lynn remember one such occasion. their dad, Jamie came home, intoxicated. When he saw Lynn drinking a glass of water, he flew into a rage. Why? Who knows! He released his anger by grabbing Lynn's glass from her and smashing it into the kitchen counter.

Zoom! Zip! Dash! Three kids, out the door and hightailing it for their aunt's trailer. Too bad they can't escape the memories.

7 Boys Were Allowed To Sleep Over

Here's that parental permissiveness again. Both of her parents allowed an older teen toy to sleep over, in Britney's room, when she was only 14. When she began dating Justin Timberlake, he got the same privilege. "Woo-hoo, I'm gettin' it!"

Never mind the fact that the family heavily pushed the innocent, Christian Southern girl image. Behind the closed front door of the Spears' family home, the rules were much looser.

About the only thing that distinguishes Justin from the former boyfriend: He's only one year older than Britney. However, that would still have caused a problem when Britney was, say, 16 and Justin 17.

Both Spears girls would have been much better served and raised if their parents hadn't had such a permissive attitude toward parenting. Maybe then, they would have avoided some of the issues they confronted as they grew up.

6 The Infamous Meltdown

Who can forget that image of Britney gleefully shaving all that beautiful hair from her head? For professionals who have worked with the mentally ill, they probably recognized this as one outward symptom of mental illness.

Britney had a paternal grandmother who, when she was 31 years old, committed suicide. This means that Jamie, Brit's dad, was very young when he lost his mom.

Add to that, Jamie's own alcoholism.

Returning to Britney's grandmother, it seems the depression and anxiety were issues for her as well. It's natural, though not advisable, that the family kept this information deeply hidden. It wouldn't have helped Britney's career. Now, thankfully, this information is out. Britney got the professional help she needed so badly. Now, she is back on a healthy track, taking care of herself and, hopefully, her sons. And she has resumed her music career.

5 ...And Her Parents Ignored The Signs

Jamie-Lynn launched her own entertainment career when older sis, Britney was reaching her 18th birthday. This meant that mama Lynn decided it was time to turn her attentions totally away from Britney's needs so she could focus on "helping" Jamie-Lynn, uh, bring even more money into the family bank account.

At 18, Britney was vulnerable and she didn't know very much about Hollywood and the entertainment industry. Which means that her "managers" didn't have her best interests in mind. They had their bank accounts solely at the forefront.

Realizing this, managers and agents who wanted Britney on their lists took full advantage of her. They fed drugs to her and, Britney, feeling the symptoms of depression and panic attacks, willingly took them. Of course, managers gave her drugs to increase their control over her.

4 Allowed To Walk Around Without Clothes

Oh, Britney! Jamie-Lynn, you need to listen as well. Walking around in the nude in your parents' home is your business. But, when you do so in a home that requires a 24-hour security guard, put on a robe at the least!

Yeah, Britney needed that reminder. She was sued by said security guard after walking around her apartment without a stitch of clothing on. He sued, claiming a hostile work environment. He also claimed that she was harassing him.

Let's unpack this a bit here. All three Spears siblings grew up, free to run around in their birthday suits. Remember their parents' hands-off parenting styles? To them, clothing was optional. Which meant that her learned habit of disrobing completely in her own home was not harassment, although I would look seriously at the hostile working environment complaint.

Let's hope she doesn't walk around nude in front of her sons.

3 She Swears Like A Sailor

Whether this still happens now that Britney is emotionally and mentally stable is anyone's guess. But, before she received help for her mental illness, Britney. . . well, she loved flinging those swear words around.

Case in point: Brit and her then-boyfriend, Adnan Ghalib, stopped at a store in the Westfield Topanga mall. Britney decided to buy a few things—only her Black Amex card was declined. Adnan tried other charge cards. All the while, Britney was still in the dressing room, crying, screaming and swearing. "F**k these b*****s!" In addition, she's throwing a full bottle of soda so that it spills and spreads all over the dressing room floor.

After a new charge card is finally accepted, she puts on one of the new tops and emerges from the dressing room, all red-faced with rage. "F**k you, f**k people, f**k, f**k, f**k."

2 Underage Partying

Not to put too fine a face on it. But the Spears parents were less than hands-on in raising and supervising their children. Case in point: Britney, Bryan and Jamie-Lynn were allowed to enter bars while they were underaged. Not only that, they were allowed to drink as well.

Remember, the Spears kids were exposed to excessive drinking from very young ages, so drinking was nothing new to them. And this is where they developed their own drinking and (possibly) other alleged substance abuse issues.

Alcoholism and addiction may be genetic, so Britney and her siblings have to think of that every time they are invited to drink or use. That was no never-mind to Lynn. Just hide that part of her daughters' pasts when it comes to publicity, marketing and fame.

1 Her Fake "Good-Girl" Image

Britney hit the national pop and acting scene wearing a good-girl image that just isn't real. It was a facade created by her mother, Lynn Spears. Through all of her experiences, Britney has fought that image as though it were a noose around her neck.

Looking at her, people can be forgiven for mistaking her wholesome beauty as reflective of who Britney is on the inside. She has clearly been impacted by the family dynamic of toxic relationships and familial violence. Also, she and her siblings grew up used to walking around their home wearing nothing more than their birthday suits. Her own mother raised her (or her squeaky-clean image) as a virginal sacrifice on the stages where Britney performed.

Another, more cynical point of view is that she wants to be seen as what she believes she is. She revels in the messes she creates.

Sources: thetalko.com, rollingstone.com, ageofconsent.net, huffingtonpost.com, dailymail.co.uk, Celebrities Then and Now, giphy.com, musixmatch.com, pinterest.com, NY Daily News, thesun.co.uk, Facebook.com

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