Parenting: The Reagan children

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Drug abuse. A sexual molestation scandal. Nude photos for Playboy Magazine. Tell-all book deals. This is just a sampling of the antics of the Reagans’ four children.

Ronald Reagan’s eldest daughter Maureen was born in 1941 to Reagan’s first wife, Jane Wyman. Second son Michael was later adopted in 1946 and Wyman and Reagan divorced three years later in 1949. After Reagan remarried in 1952, this time to Nancy Davis, two more Reagan children were born: Patricia and Ronald.

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Today, three out of the four Reagan children have already penned memoirs, chronicling their lives as First Children. In 1988, son Michael wrote a detailed account of his childhood, admitting that a camp counselor had sexually abused him at the age of eight. When his father failed to have a public response to the claims and did not acknowledge Michael’s trauma, the American public began to gain insight into a man that seemed to be an aloof and remote father.

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But Michael Reagan’s admission of childhood trauma was only a part of  the scandal that embroiled the Reagan family. Throughout the 1970s, Patti Reagan lived with a member of The Eagles, an act that flew in the face of her parents social conservatism. She was publicly pro-choice, supported gay marriage, was purported to struggle with drug abuse and in 1986, wrote a scathing, thinly veiled, tell-all novel entitled “A House of Secrets.” Most notably, Patti Davis — as she chooses to be publicly known — posed fully nude for Playboy in 1994 at age 42.

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And now, at age 58, she is once again baring all. Davis posed fully nude for More magazine and discussed her ’94 Playboy shoot.

“I knew, given my reputation as the rebellious First Daughter — although my father was out of office by then — that I’d get criticized for doing Playboy, but I didn’t care,” she said. “I wasn’t doing this to spite my parents; I was doing it for me. This was my victory lap.”

As for the other two Reagan children, their lives have taken a more traditional path. Maureen Reagan ran for the senate in California in 2001 but was not supported by her family members. In fact, her uncle Neil Reagan said during a radio show, “We Reagans urge you to support Pete Wilson,” Maureen Reagan’s opponent. Maureen also was not endorsed by her father. She later joined the board of directors for the Alzheimer’s Association and served on the board of trustees at her alma mater, Eureka College, from March 2000 until her death. In the summer of 2001, Maureen Reagan passed away after battling melanoma cancer.

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The Reagan’s youngest child, Ron, has become known as the most liberal of the Reagan children, espousing his views on a talk radio show for KIRO radio, working as a political analyst and appearing as a contributor on “Hardball with Chris Matthews.” He has endorsed multiple democratic candidates, both John Kerry in 2004 and Barack Obama in 2008. When asked about his feelings about the Bush administration, Reagan’s distaste of the current Republican party became clear.

“The Bush people have no right to speak for my father, particularly because of the position he’s in now,” he said. “Yes, some of the current policies are an extension of the 1980s. But the overall thrust of this administration is not my father’s—these people are overly reaching, overly aggressive, overly secretive, and just plain corrupt. I don’t trust these people.”

For Ron Reagan, the golden years of the Republican Party, the Reagan Era, is long gone.

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