Inside Janet Jackson's Rocky Relationship With Her Father

The Jackson family of performers, including Janet and Michael Jackson, were raised by Joe Jackson, and by the account of his children, he could be a cold and domineering father. When Michael Jackson was asked by Martin Bashir in his 2003 documentary "Living with Michael Jackson" how much he was hit by Joe, Michael responded "too much," according to People, and said that Joe used to watch Jackson 5 rehearsals with a belt in his hands.

"It was more than just a belt — cords, whatever was around," Michael said. "[He'd] throw you up against the wall as hard as you could. He would lose his temper. [...] I was so fast, he couldn't catch me half the time. But when he would catch me? It was bad. It was really bad." (Joe, for his part, has admitted he used to hit his children but has also said "I'm glad I was tough, because look what I came out with.")

By the time Janet, the youngest Jackson sibling (per Britannica), was born, Joe's aggression seemed to have dimmed somewhat. She only recalled getting hit once. "I was very young, I remember being younger than 8," she said. "I can't remember what it was that I did. I can't remember if I truly deserved it. ... My father never touched me aside from that time." But even if she suffered less physical abuse, Janet's relationship with her father wasn't always a happy one.

'A great man'

Janet, and all the Jackson siblings, were not allowed to call Joe Jackson "dad," according to their account (which Joe Jackson largely confirmed, per People). "I called him Joseph," Janet said. "One time I tried to call him dad, and he said, 'No, I'm Joseph. You call me Joseph. I'm Joseph to you.' He tells you one time, you don't do it again. So I always called him Joseph."

Janet said she didn't speak much with her father, even in the years leading up to his death. But she also said that there was part of her that respected him. "He has his issues, his things, and the way that he was brought up. He's set in his ways. I think he did the best that he could," she said. When Joe died in 2018, she called him "a great man," according to E! News, for leading the family to pop superstardom.

"We are a Black family that came from Gary, Indiana and we broke all kinds of records around the globe," she said at her first concert after her father's death. "That's truth."