Kelly Clarkson's dad abandoned the family when she was 6. Despite trying for years to gain his love and care, she was left humiliated and broken by his rejections.
Just like every other girl, Kelly Clarkson too hoped to clutch her dad's hand tightly while walking down the aisle and have a father-daughter dance on her big day. However, for the singing sensation, her dream of having the love and support of her father remained a mere fantasy that would never be fulfilled. The Stronger singer was six when her father Stephen Michael decided to abandon his family. After the divorce, Clarkson went to live with her mother while her older brother, Jason, and sister was sent to her dad and aunt's home respectively, reports Country Living.
It wasn't long before her mother remarried and Clarkson was surrounded by a new family of five step-brothers and step-sisters. She also has two younger half-brothers from her father's second marriage. Despite the sour relationship between her parents, the singer decided to reach out to her dad in an attempt to reconcile, because all she needed was his love. Unfortunately, this effort was reciprocated with Stephen's rejection, who failed to acknowledge her daughter's need for fatherly attention.
Heartbroken over this failed father-daughter relationship, Clarkson, who was 16 at the time, poured her agony into the song Because of You. Released in 2004, the song spoke about her miserable state during her parent's divorce followed by her father's abandonment. "Because of you, I don't know how to let anyone else in. Because of you, I'm ashamed of my life. Because it's empty, Because of you, I am afraid," vented the exceptionally talented singer. Then life took a surprising turn for the better and Clarkson won the first-ever American Idol in 2002. Even her father, who never showed the courtesy to built a relationship with his own daughter suddenly reached out to her.
She assumed that it was the beginning of something new, but she was left disappointed once again. All Stephen wanted was to take advantage of the young girl's success. In 2015, she channeled her emotional turmoil through the song Piece By Piece. Recalling the memories she had of her dad while she was pregnant with her first child with husband, Brandon Blackstock, she sang, "I traveled fifteen hundred miles to see you. I begged you to want me, but you didn't want to. I made something of myself and now you want to come back. But your love isn't free, it has to be earned. Back then I didn't have anything you needed, so I was worthless."
Through the song, she expressed how glad she was to have found a life partner like Blackstock who was nothing like her father. "Lot of the reason why I wrote 'Piece by Piece' was I guess I didn't realize the gravity of the situation until I had a child of my own, and until I experienced love like I do with Brandon on the daily," she said according to Huffington Post. Furthermore, the 37-year-old added, "I guess you don't realize something is missing until you feel it. I can't imagine walking away from my little girl. I can't imagine not having that love anymore. I didn't know it was missing because I never had it. It was a revelation and that's why I wrote that song. I think a lot of people go through that."
Saturated with the rejections, the mother of two stopped trying to reconcile with her father. In 2016, she said, "It's more of that thing where you can try your hardest to salvage relationships—and I did—but at the end of the day, if you keep getting hurt by someone because they just don't know how to properly love people, it's just not worth it. It's not worth the strain in your heart and it starts to bleed into your other relationships and it becomes super dysfunctional." During an interview in November 2017, the three-time Grammy winner said, "I think if you don't grow up with it, it's hard to miss something you never had. You’re like, I shouldn’t have to work this hard for someone’s love. Like, that’s a little ridiculous And at that point, too, you grow up so much to where you go, okay, I don’t even think you’re capable."
"Even if it’s not your father, whoever it is in your life, if someone presents such a cancerous environment and then just keeps hurting you, and even if they’re doing it inadvertently and they just don’t know better, you should just not have that person in your life," she about the significance of moving on according to TODAY. "And it’s OK. That’s not a hateful situation. You go your own way." Despite being subjected to emotional distress from an early age, she never resented the man. "In fairness to him, I don’t know his life, how he grew up, and I don’t know if he’s repeating a cycle that was once taught to him," she said, adding, "I have no hatefulness. No anger. No nothing, about it. I don't understand it for me, but I understand the depth of what that is—having a child—now, and he's made me want to be that much more present in my family." Finally, in February 2019, she confirmed her father's death in an interview with Forbes.