JFK Jr. Would Have Been 60 Today

Was he part of the replacement child community?

Anyone of a certain age remembers the iconic photo of John-John saluting at his father’s funeral in 1963, after JFK’s assassination. We followed his life, growing up in that Kennedy bubble and shadow, and were devasted by his early death at 38. Until now I hadn’t taken note that he may also have been a replacement child in the strictest terms, and with many of the telltale behaviors.

John F. Kennedy Jr.

John F. Kennedy Jr. was born just two weeks after his father was elected President in 1960, and lived his first three years in the White House. His birth followed a miscarriage and then stillbirth. Sadly, another brother, Patrick, born in 1963, lived only two days after his premature birth. By any definition, JFK Jr. qualified as a replacement child.

How this status informed his life can only be gleaned now by looking at his short life. We have no idea if he would have settled on an identity for himself. He had been lawyer, publisher and actor and then considered embarking more seriously on a political career, friends have reported. This kind of struggle with self-identity is part and parcel of the replacement child syndrome. His penchant for risk taking, whether in publishing George magazine or piloting his own plane even with a hurt leg, may have also been related to his replacement child status.

It’s likely that JFK Jr. had no idea he was a replacement child. Not many people talked about it at that time, or are aware of it even now. Possibly in later life he may have searched for some answers about his behaviors and motivations, and discovered that he shared a great deal with this adult replacement child community. We certainly wish he had lived to do just that.

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