Molly Ringwald is a Replacement Child 

The famous U.S. actress, translator and filmmaker reveals that the death of her brother has affected her life, although she was born as a fourth child into her family.

Tune into this episode of This American Life, to hear Molly Ringwald discuss the ripples of being a replacement child in her life, including the relationship with her daughter Matilda (beginning at the 37:00 minute mark).

You can hear the episode by clicking here.

Molly Ringwald’s story has all the hallmarks of the replacement child condition:

  • a depressed and grieving mother;
  • the pressure to be special and do great things;
  • being unfavorably compared to her sister;
  • pressuring herself to perform to the utmost level as well as her daughter Matilda “to do better” in school.

In the course of a tearful exchange between the two, Matilda then protects her mom, in an act of loyalty and says: “you were better parents!” than the ones portrayed in Ringwald’s movie “The Breakfast Club.” 

Molly Ringwald in The Breakfast Club
Molly Ringwald in The Breakfast Club

Molly Ringwald sees the effect of the death of her first brother on her own life, 

as of the 50th minute in this interview by Ira Glass: 

“I was always told that I was special and destined to greatness…already as a little kid.”

“My first brother died, he was the first and I was the last… we never met.”

“My mom was understandably devastated by this and was sort of suicidal for a while…didn’t actually try anything but she was considering…”

“She believed she conversed with a spirit …that she was here for another reason…to stay alive … for me! …That is heavy!” 

“I had to become (kind of famous, as a teenager) to keep my mom alive!”  

“I had to succeed. I had to be great!”  

“And then, I turn around and pressure my daughter, because I too think she is so great!”