‘You’re Getting Nothing’: Steve Jobs’ Daughter Wrote a Heartbreaking Memoir About Their Often Brutal Relationship

Family ties are the strongest connections that we have in life even when one of the parties does not want to acknowledge them. These ties define us and stay for us a long time in life, especially the parent-child relationship. If this relationship is not “normal” its effects are still felt in the adulthood and the struggles are eventually reduced when children become parents themselves.

An established expert, Dr. Mark Epstein, M.D. explains this bond:

 “Children, even angry, adult ones, never stop needing their parents’ love.”

There are many stories of the parent-child relationship, but the memoir of Lisa Brennan-Jobs, a daughter of Steve Jobs, the Apple co-founder and CEO, intrigued the world.

We all remember the incredible work of Steve Jobs that changed the world. He was highly intelligent business magnate and investor who lost the battle with cancer in 2011, and although we were in a way familiar with his wok we did not know his way of parenthood.

The memoir of his daughter, Lisa Brennan-Jobs, revealed the father-daughter bond they both shared, which unfortunately was not the ideal one.

Steve Jobs became a parent of Lisa with his girlfriend, Chrisann Brennan, when both of them were 23 years old. However, he immediately did not accept his birth daughter; in fact, he even denied the paternity and refused to pay child support.

The heartbreaking memoir of Lisa, “Small Fry” reveals the pain his rejection caused to her and her mother. An excerpt of this memoir was first released in Vanity Fair in September 2018, revealing Jobs’ final days, starting by a scene with a Buddhist monk who instructed Lisa to “touch his feet.”

Lisa was born on an Oregon farm, and her father came a few days later, but he immediately refused his parenthood to her claiming that she was not his. After two years her mother submitted claim for child support thorough the district attorney of San Mateo County who forced Jobs to take a DNA test.

Lisa wrote:

My father responded by denying paternity, swearing in a deposition that he was sterile and naming another man he said was my father. I was required to take a DNA test. The tests were new then, and when the results came back, they gave the odds that we were related as the highest the instruments could measure at the time: 94.4 percent.”

However, the child support was finalized on December 8, 1980, just four days before Apple went public and Jobs became immensely wealthy. So, Lisa did not spend her childhood in abundance, her mother struggled to survive on her salary from waitressing and house cleaning. They never had a steady home but moved from place to place in order to find a better job.

Lisa saw her father once in a month and during his visits they skated around the neighborhood together. As any daughter she was happy when her father came to visit her, but their interactions were minimal, most of the times filled with silence and a “strange blankness.”

Children can be really cruel when a child lives with only one parent and when things got unbearable for Lisa she would tell her friends that Steve Jobs was her father:

I brought it up when I felt I needed to, waited as long as I could and then let it burst forth.

The story had a film of unreality to it as I said it, even to my own ears. I hadn’t hung out with him that much, only a few skates and visits. I didn’t have the clothes or the bike someone with a father like this would have.”

Lisa heard all the amazing stories about the wealth of her father like his common habit of replacing his black Porsche every time it got a scratch. Hence, she thought that one day he could give to her the one that he wanted to replace and she asked him about that, but his reply “hurt—sharp, in my chest”: “You’re not getting anything. You understand? Nothing. You’re getting nothing.”

She continues: “By that time I knew he was not generous with money, or food, or words.”

She has also written in her memoir about the Apple Lisa, a failed precursor for the Macintosh computer. It was believed that he named it after his daughter, but when she asked him about it, she got a short reply: “Nope. Sorry kid.”

Yet, when she was 27 years old, she was invited on a holiday in the Mediterranean with the entire Jobs family when they visited Jobs’ friend, Bono, the U2 front man. On this vacation Bono asked his friend if this is the Lisa after whom the Apple Lisa got the name and Jobs after a long pause, said: “Yeah, it was.” Lisa was overwhelmed with joy, explaining it as “a new power that pulled my chest up.”

Lisa lived with her father at some point in life and that was when she was in middle school when her fights with her mother became intense. She moved in the house of her father and his new wife. This was a new world to her, mansions, vacations, and private schools, and although she was grateful of her father’s attention no matter how meager it was she was not really happy. He was still cold, critical and unpredictable.

 “I was unsure of my position in the house, and this anxiety—combined with a feeling of immense gratitude so overwhelming I thought I might burst—caused me to talk too much, compliment too much, to say yes to whatever they asked, hoping my servile quality would ignite compassion, pity, or love.”

Nevertheless, she came to visit him in his final years, every other month or for a weekend. She wrote: “I had given up on the possibility of a grand reconciliation, the kind in the movies, but I kept coming anyway.”

During her visits, when he was sleeping, she was wandering around house and one time she entered the bathroom, and sprayed herself with some of his expensive rose facial mist. But, when she went to say goodbye to him, he told her: “You smell like a toilet.”

In her final words she wrote:

 “For him, I was a blot on a spectacular ascent, as our story did not fit with the narrative of greatness and virtue he might have wanted for himself. My existence ruined his streak. For me, it was the opposite: The closer I was to him, the less I would feel ashamed; he was part of the world, and he would accelerate me into the light.”

This memoir is not a confession of an angry girl, but of a girl that wanted her father’s love and recognition. She was trying all her life to win his love and acceptance so that he is proud of her. She appreciated and admired his charisma and brilliance, but also wanted a small portion of it to be addressed to her as well.