Oct. 28, 2010— -- Rock stars often bring their larger-than-life personalities to bounty of another kind: having children. Jermaine Jackson's kids have reportedly reached the double-digit mark. Others, like Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger and Sting, can pretty much create a basketball team with their broods.
The typical rock or pop-culture lifestyle doesn't make it easy for musician-celebrities to have ongoing contact with each of the children or, in some cases, to keep offspring together. Extensive touring and life on the road, often coupled with a frivolous youth and an assortment of relationship partners, may lead to separation – possibly of long duration – from the child or children.
So fans take notice when their musical idols reconnect with long lost offspring.
In the news is 65-year-old British rocker Rod Stewart – he has seven children by five different women, with another child on the way – who reunited with his first-born child and eldest daughter, Sarah Streeter, this summer.
Streeter, now 46, was born to Stewart, then a teenager, and an art student then known as Susannah Boffey, now known as Susannah Hourde. The Daily Mail reported that Stewart wanted to put the baby up for adoption immediately. After struggling to raise the child on her own, the mother finally agreed.
"She was put up for adoption when I was 17 or 18, I think," Stewart remarked on the Joy Behar Show this month, reported AOL Music. "I was absolutely stone broke," he said, adding that keeping the baby just wasn't feasible. After years in foster care and various children's homes, Streeter was adopted at age five.
When she was 18, said the Daily Mail, Streeter's adoptive parents revealed her paternity. Even though father and daughter met a few times in the 80s, they had hardly any contact during the subsequent two decades. Then three years ago, the status changed. Stewart reconnected with his daughter following the death of her adoptive mother.
"Now [that] I'm getting to know him more I think I understand what went on," said Streeter, who has met several of her half-siblings. "Rod has actually come into my life in a big way since mother's gone, and I don't think that's a coincidence. Now we're at the start of a new chapter, and that's wonderful."
Rod Stewart's Family Ties
What may have caused Stewart's change of heart?
"As these stars age and fans fade, the people not going away are the children," said Charles R. Figley, a psychologist, whose expertise includes family relationships.
Figley, who also heads up the doctoral program at Graduate School of Social Work at Tulane University, explained that, in their youth, male rock stars and other privileged male celebrities are basically stuck in adolescence.
"For a long time, rock stars stay in the developmental stage where they're seeking their own identity and experimenting, and having no trouble bedding women," he said. "When a child comes along, the newborn is generally perceived as a problem, not a blessing."
"Often what lies behind the large number of children sired by the male celebrity is not narcissism, but rather an unspoken arrangement," said Sharon Chirban, a psychologist in private practice whose expertise includes issues associated with high-profile people.
"If this man is on his second or third marriage, his partner is often much younger and she often wants children," said Chirban, who's also a psychology instructor at Harvard Medical School. "Having a child with the new partner is often a sign of an emotional commitment to the new relationship." And, she added, he has the financial means to afford more children.
Around the age of 40, said Figley, "These men recognize the mistakes they've made, and better understand that having a certain number of hit songs isn't enough for a legacy. They reach a point where they think, 'My life is worth more than that.' And they enter into a regenerative phase where mentoring, and improving the well-being of the next generation, becomes important."
"It's wonderful to see," said Figley, commenting about Rod Stewart's more inclusive relationship with his eldest daughter.
Stewart is also being supportive to his 30-year-old son Sean who, according to the Mail Online, was charged with driving on a suspended license in Los Angeles this month. Sean had also done a stint in celebrity rehab.In addition to his children Sarah and Sean, Stewart has Kimberly 31; Ruby, 23; Renee, 18; Liam, 16; and Alistair, 5. He's bragged about Liam's sports skills to Canadian television. And he's crowed about Kimberly's modeling and Ruby's singing talent on Dateline NBC.
All in the Family for Rod Stewart
But relationships can become slippery slopes. Streeter's mother, Susannah Hourde, told the Daily Mail she "doesn't care about Sarah anymore," and believes that it would be "impossible" to be reconciled with her. The publication reported that Streeter "became embroiled in a bitter public row with her biological mother" and wouldn't speak to her again after earlier attempts to develop a relationship failed.
In contrast, Stewart told the Today Show, "You've got to be there if you're a parent, there's no other way around it." That was more than nine years ago. Now, as Stewart welcomes Streeter into his family fold – and prepares for the arrival of child number eight, he seems to have brought his Big Daddy persona one step closer to resolution.