Why Jamie Lynn Spears Says She Put Boundaries on Her Relationship With Britney
By Paige Gawley
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Jamie Lynn Spears is opening up about her relationship with her sister, Britney Spears. In her new memoir, Things I Should've Said, the younger Spears writes about growing up with her pop star sister, Britney's much-discussed conservatorship, and why she's chosen to put boundaries up between them as of late.
From the time she was born, Jamie Lynn writes, Britney, 10 years her senior, "did everything" for her, from bathing, to feeding, to diaper changes, and even became "like a second mother."
As Jamie Lynn got older and Britney's fame grew, the younger Spears, now 30, grew to consider her older sister to be her "role model."
On the flip side, Jamie Lynn writes, "As Britney’s fame grew, it caused a lot of strain on the family."
That manifested in their mother, Lynne Spears, often being away with Britney, while their father, Jamie Spears, struggled with alcohol and was in and out of the home, according to Jamie Lynn. ET has reached out to lawyers for Britney, Lynne and Jamie.
In her case in particular, Jamie Lynn "was taught to defer to Britney or behave in a way that made things easier for her," which "forced me to sacrifice my own needs."
Eventually, Britney's "erratic" behavior began, according to Jamie Lynn, including Britney's short-lived marriage to Jason Alexander.
"Inside I was scared and unsure of how to manage. I felt abandoned," Jamie Lynn writes. "The marriage ended within hours, but the chaos of my sister’s life was just beginning."
At that time, Jamie Lynn claims, "everyone was more concerned with the public perception than my sister’s emotional state." Jamie Lynn, however, "saw the depth of her difficulty" during a particularly scary incident.
"One time, she said to me, 'Baby, I’m scared,' and took a large knife from the kitchen, pulled me along to my room, and she locked us both inside," Jamie Lynn writes. "She put the knife in the bedside table drawer and simply repeated, 'I’m scared.' She needed me to sleep beside her."
"Within days of this episode, Britney was packing up and headed back to her life in L.A. I knew something was very wrong, and I was powerless to do anything about it," she continues. "Everyone was too invested and didn’t want to do what should have been done. Something was off, and I had a shaky feeling when she left."
Britney denied the incident in a tweet, writing that she was "never" around Jamie Lynn with a knife and would never "even think to do such." She additionally wrote that "only a scum person would make up such things about someone."
In her book, Jamie Lynn writes that things mellowed for a bit after Britney tied the knot with Kevin Federline in 2004, and the pair welcomed their sons, Sean Preston and Jayden James, who are now 16 and 15 respectively.
However, after Britney and Kevin called it quits in 2007, Jamie Lynn writes that it "became increasingly obvious that something was out of whack in Britney’s world," as her "normally sweet and free-spirited sister continued to morph into someone else -- who was disturbed and paranoid at times."
Things declined further when Sam Lutfi "infiltrated" Britney's world as her manager and "painstakingly dismantled her life," according to Jamie Lynn. Britney has since been granted a restraining order against Lutfi, who argued that such a ruling was "unconstitutional."
"I knew Britney had been through so much in the past few years and wanted to believe her downward spiral was temporary," Jamie Lynn writes. "Britney continued to support my efforts and be the best sister she could at that time. The spotlights on my sister were blinding and obscured her ability to recognize the dangers all around her -- dangers that still exist. Sometimes I feel like Britney’s light was too bright, and I should have done more to protect her."
Amid Britney's ongoing struggles, Jamie Lynn became pregnant at age 16. The actress claims that her team hid her pregnancy from Britney, alleging that they said it was "too risky to tell Britney about the baby."
"I needed her more than ever and she wasn’t able help me in my most vulnerable time," she writes. "Britney’s condition was spiraling into something more concerning. They were concerned her instability at that time made her untrustworthy. I went along with what my team told me to do because I was a minor and didn’t want to create any more issues."
While Jamie Lynn was dealing with her teenage pregnancy, Britney was placed under a conservatorship, which Jamie Lynn believes happened because Britney "became a target for unsavory and duplicitous people" amid a challenging period following her divorce.
"My sister didn’t seem well, and those closest to her at the time, especially my parents, believed the conservatorship was the best way to protect her and the fortune she had amassed throughout her career," Jamie Lynn writes. "I think their only intent was to keep her safe at a time when she couldn’t do that for herself."
At the time, though, Jamie Lynn was focused on other things. "I was sixteen years old and getting ready to deliver my first child. I knew things were difficult for Britney, but I was wrapped up in my own life. At the time, I supported her by remaining loyal to her, by listening to her and protecting her in whatever manner I could."
Jamie Lynn's support of her sister continued after her first daughter, Maddie, now 13, was born. The actress then tied the knot with Jamie Watson in 2014, and the pair welcomed a daughter, Ivey, in 2018.
That sisterly bond lasted all the way up until 2020, when an alleged incident occurred with Britney during quarantine amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Britney became enraged about something trivial. She came at me screaming and getting up in my face while I was holding Ivey," Jamie Lynn claims. "... Despite my best efforts, Britney continued on the attack, and Maddie had to get in between us to protect her little sister until my parents could finally get Britney to retreat."
Afterward, Jamie Lynn claims that her mom told her, "Please don’t upset your sister anymore." The comment reminded Jamie Lynn of her childhood, of the times she was asked to put Britney's needs ahead of her own.
"Experiencing this dynamic as an adult and a mother was the catalyst I needed to remove myself from the situation. I wouldn’t ask my children to pretend everything was fine to soothe my parents or sister, nor would I continue to do so myself," she writes. "Although the pandemic necessitated that we stay together, I made certain that the girls and I distanced ourselves from that cycle of behaviors."
Then, in June 2021, Britney testified in court about her conservatorship for the first time. During her testimony, Britney spoke out against her family as a whole, even saying, "I want to sue my family, to be totally honest with you." The comments, Jamie Lynn writes, instigated an "onslaught of hate" against her and her family.
"At no point did my sister lift the veil on what or who is truly responsible for her challenges," Jamie Lynn writes. "By excluding this, she allowed an onslaught of hate that put me and my family at risk. Her references to me left me reeling. I have only ever had her back.... I continued to protect her until just recently, when she decided I didn’t need protecting and threw me to the proverbial media wolves."
Britney's statement in court left Jamie Lynn feeling that the years she "spent protecting [Britney] and being the loyal sister have been in vain."
"The ambiguity of her conservatorship testimonies and social media postings have left me wondering what it was all for. I miss my sister, but I can’t take the blame for things I haven’t done," she writes. "... My relationship with Britney and our struggles has nothing to do with the conservatorship, but rather the boundaries I put in place to maintain the welfare of me and my immediate family."
While Jamie Lynn wonders if "maybe I should have done more" when the conservatorship began, she was a pregnant teenager at the time, and "Britney was the adult, and she had promised me she was fine." Even Britney, Jamie Lynn claims, does not blame her for the situation, at least in private.
"In a recent text from my sister, she stated herself: 'I know it’s not your fault and I’m sorry for being so angry at you. Although I’m your big sister, I need you more than you need me and always have,'" Jamie Lynn writes. "I pray for the day she shares these words with the world."
At the end of the day, Jamie Lynn still wants the best for her sister.
"For me, this has only ever been about the girl who gave so much in pursuit of her dream to sing for millions. The flip side was everything Britney sacrificed along the way: her privacy, dignity, and overall health," Jamie Lynn writes. "When the cameras turn away and everyone’s moved on to the next headline, I will still be here for my sister, no matter what is said or done between us."
As for her, Jamie Lynn is focused on her husband and children.
"In the court of public opinion, if you are a member of the Spears family, you are labeled detestable and reprehensible. I am guilty of loving my whole family and wanting what is best for all of them. I always have," Jamie Lynn writes. "But I’ve created my own family, which always comes first. And our last name is Watson."
In fact, when ET spoke with Jamie Lynn, the mom of two said that she wrote her memoir for her daughters.
"I wrote this book so that I could show my daughters to use their voice," she told ET. "I hope that tells other people to do the same. Even if you’re afraid, and even if you feel like it’s something that’s scary for you to do, your voice matters. You should always feel like you can control your narrative."