June “Mama June” Shannon and her daughter, Alana “Honey Boo Boo” Thompson, attracted the producer’s attention as the entertaining mother-daughter duo during child beauty pageants shown in the TLC’s documentary series “Toddlers & Tiaras.” While things seemed innocent when the show aired for two years in the early 2010s, the truth about a complicated family dynamic surfaced eventually.
Although allowed to make amends in 2017, Mama June squandered the opportunity, and returned to her lousy old habits for a while. Thankfully, June turned her life around in late 2022 and seems to be on the right path in 2023 with her four daughters by her side, who seemingly forgave her. We’ve analyzed what happened over the years, and how she reconnected with her family.
Mama June had several toxic relationships
Fans who know a bit about the family quickly concluded that nearly all problems Mama June caused stem from dating bad guys. For example, all daughters have different fathers, and most were accused of misdeeds, from child molestation to drug involvement. One almost ruined her TV career; after people accused Mama June of dating someone she shouldn’t, Phil McGraw, the host of “Dr. Phil,” invited her onto his reality TV show to explain the situation, and TLC quickly cut all ties and canceled the show.
The absence of her daughters’ fathers from TV screens is reasonable, since they may prefer a private life. However, the distance from their daughters’ lives became apparent several times, for example, not applying for child custody of Alana when her mother faced problems, pushing her daughter “Pumpkin” to step up. Luckily, Mama June eventually entered a healthy relationship, married quickly, and since 2022 is atoning for the previous poor treatment of her daughters.
Mama June was a bad influence
Although viewers noticed the many ways that Mama June mistreated her daughters throughout the show, some were inadvertent. We mentioned not providing a stable, positively influential father figure in their lives as a significant one; others were much more subtle. For one, she made the wrong choices, and let her habits cause drastic weight gain. Consequently, she didn’t care about her daughters’ well-being, and by setting a bad example, they struggled with obesity too.
She changed that several years ago, when she embarked on a weight loss journey through operations, personal training, and diet. Consequently, in 2017, WE TV granted her a new show, “Mama June: From Not To Hot,” which showed her losing more than 300lbs or 136kgs, and getting down to size 4. However, Mama June was arrested in March 2019, alongside her then-boyfriend Eugene “Geno” Doak, and almost ended up in prison, while he got 16 months, ruining all her positive progress. They dated in 2015 but made it official in 2017, but she accused him of being abusive throughout their relationship.
During a 2019 incident, they argued at an Alabama gas station, he allegedly threatening to kill her. Police officers who responded to the disturbance call found a glass pipe with white residue and a green pill bottle in the glove compartment. Mama June admitted it was crack cocaine, and revealed in 2021 that they spent over $1 million per year, about $4000 daily on drugs.
Anna was the most affected
Anna “Chickadee,” Cardwell, née Shannon, is June’s eldest daughter and the one people thought would never be on good terms with her mother. She was born in August 1994, and not much is known about her father, David Dunn because he never appeared in the show, however, he had a criminal history of stealing a handgun in 1995 and cigarettes in 1998. Anna claimed that she never knew much about him because June forbade him from seeing her. June wasn’t too thrilled about Anna, either; Janice Shannon, who was married to Jimmy Shannon, June’s brother, revealed that she was asked to care for Anna, but that adoption never happened. Instead, Anna lived between her mother’s and grandmother’s homes until seven, when June made her permanently live with her mother, Sandra Hale, so that she, June could move into a trailer with a boyfriend. Another source alleged that June paid Anna $500 to move back into the family home in 2012, because it would make for a good storyline in the show.
Anna’s biological father abused her
However, the real culprit was Mama June’s ex-boyfriend, Mark McDaniel, whom she dated while Anna was a kid. He allegedly molested Anna aged eight, and after she told her teacher, who alerted the authorities, Mama June refused to believe her. Although the court indicted him on charges related to abuse against her, the judge dismissed the case. However, Anna’s claims were somewhat proven when Mark got 10 years in prison after admitting to aggravated child molestation.
Mark wreaked havoc again in 2014, when it was reported that Mama June reunited with him. Anna told Radar Online that she was hurt, and that the relationship with her mother may as well be over. In a November 2014 appearance in a “Dr. Phil” episode, she claimed that she’d met Mark but claimed that she wasn’t dating him or anyone else. Nonetheless, TLC promptly canceled “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” and released a statement that declared, ‘Supporting the health and welfare of these remarkable children is our only priority. TLC is faithfully committed to the children’s ongoing comfort and well-being.’
Anna recently forgave her mother
Another reason for the strained relationship is that Anna followed in her mother’s footsteps, became a teen mom, and had issues similar to hers. She gave birth to her daughter, Kaitlyn Elizabeth, in June 2012, from an unknown father. Caleb Clark claimed to be Kaitlyn’s dad, but Mama June blocked his requests for a DNA test. Anna requested that he appear in the show if he wanted a paternity test, and according to Clark, admitted to cheating on him in an email. Anna married Michael Cardwell in 2014, around when the McDaniel news broke out, and the couple welcomed their first daughter, Kylee Madison, the following year. However, they split in 2017, and Anna’s later relationships, if any, are undisclosed.
Things were mostly quiet, except that Anna remarked that her mother ‘tried to avoid her and was unwilling to communicate’ since she moved back into the family home in 2012. Additionally, she sued her mother in 2015 for $300,000 in damages for unpaid appearances of her and her daughter Kaitlyn in the show. They seemingly put their differences aside before her mother’s ceremonial wedding, signifying that they came together as a family, at least temporarily.
However, TMZ reported that Anna received a stage four adrenal carcinoma diagnosis in January 2023, after complaining of stomach pains. Journalists also discovered that her cancer had spread to her lungs, liver and kidney, that she had her first round of chemotherapy that January, and Mama June has been by her side ever since. An insider stated that the mother and daughter began working on their relationship in early 2021.
Jessica’s relationship seemed the least affected
Jessica “Chubbs” Shannon, born in October 1996, didn’t have many issues with her mother. However, she has the same bad-boy father history; her father, Michael Anthony Ford, only dated Mama June for a few months before she told him that she was pregnant. He was arrested and spent two years in prison for the sexual exploitation of a minor online, after he was caught by the “To Catch a Predator” host Chris Hansen in 2005. Besides being a registered sex offender, Michael allegedly shoplifted at Walmart, and wrote checks that bounced. Although he claimed that he paid $300 per month for years, Michael noted that June never let him see his daughter, and would get him arrested for harassment if he tried.
However, things seem very positive otherwise. Jessica didn’t become a teen mom and had no reported history of abuse. Additionally, after battling weight issues, she had multiple procedures done in March 2020 with her sister Anna. They spent over $80,000 on liposuction, gastric balloon, veneers, highlights, and other interventions. After praising how life-changing the operations were, she revealed that she’d been dating a single mom, Shyann McCant since 2022, and the two seem happy in infrequent photos Jessica posts on Instagram.
Much needed vacation!🥰❤️ we definitely had a lot of fun and loved making new memories with all of y’all!
Posted by Shyann McCant on Wednesday, February 22, 2023
Lauryn also had early struggles
Mama June’s third daughter, Lauryn “Pumpkin,” Efird née Shannon, was born in June 2000. Her mom swore that her father was Michael Anthony Ford; however, a family source stated that the father is likely someone else, or that not even Mama June knows who he is.
Her father’s identity aside, Lauryn followed in her mother’s footsteps and became a teen mom, welcoming her first child, Ella Grace, at 17, with Joshua Efird. However, she chose well; she married him the following year in Las Vegas, and they welcomed three more children: son Bentley Jameson in June 2022, and a boy and a girl twins, Sylus Ray and Stella Renae, in May 2022.
Moreover, Lauryn was the responsible daughter, and signed up to be her younger sister’s legal guardian when her mom had troubles with the law. After getting temporary guardianship in August 20199, with the approval of Mike “Sugar Bear” Thompson she won full custody of Alana around April 2022. Shortly after, Mama June’s life was on the upswing; she got a new home, had been sober for over two years, was dating Justin, and stated that the only thing missing was Alana in her home.
However, Lauryn stated that ‘she would do whatever she had to, financially or physically, to keep Alana with her.’ According to her, Mama June treated her like crap, and threw her to the side like a stray dog for men in her life. Mama June eventually relented, and agreed to pay $800 monthly in child support until August 2023, when her famous daughter turns 18, and must request visitation from Lauryn. She also noted how proud she was that her daughter was there, saying, ‘I’m very grateful Pumpkin stepped up because it could have turned into a bad situation. I couldn’t even take care of myself, let alone more or less take care of anybody else.’
Alana was relieved to finish filming
Alana Francis “Honey Boo Boo” is Mama June’s most famous daughter, born in August 2005 from a relationship with Mike “Sugar Bear” Thompson. Similarly to other fathers, he served five years in prison from 1988 for robbing hunting camps, and setting fire to at least one camper; he also admitted to cheating on her with both sexes. Mama June later admitted that he’d been physically and emotionally abusive, and even caused Lauryn’s eye buckle problem.
All those revelations fit well with insiders’ claims that Mama June didn’t love him. Instead, to get CPS (Child Protective Services) off her back, she needed a stable boyfriend who would move in.
For the most part, Alana seemed to have fun while the cameras were on. However, she resented her mother behind the scenes, saying in 2014, ‘When we stopped filming the show, I was kinda happy about that, and at the same time, I was sad. So, I guess I was sa-happy.’
Alana was mistreated as a child
There was much evidence of Alana’s mistreatment off- and on-screen. For instance, TLC almost canceled the show in 2012, after a YouTube video was discovered of Alana dancing in a dimly lit bar for money. The Georgia Division of Family and Children’s Services immediately barged into the family home, concerned with many things, including Alana’s nutrition, from drinking Mountain Dew and Red Bull Go-Go Juice cocktails to eating roadkill, events TLC filmed.
Although nothing came of it, an indirect confirmation was Mama June’s statement that she ‘had danced in a college bar, not a sleazy one,’ suggesting she saw nothing wrong or illegal in exploiting her daughter in that way. Finally, during an episode of “Mama June: From Not to Hot,” Alana said, ‘I don’t even know who she is anymore. As long as Geno is around, he will keep manipulating Mama and everybody else.’ That signified the crash of their relationship as mother and daughter.
After living with Lauryn since 2019, Alana chose to stay in her half-sister’s custody, despite her mother’s health and behavioral improvement. Mama June gave in and explained that Alana was old enough to choose her environment. She described their relationship like this, ‘I do talk to her. I do see her. We communicate. The only difference is she’s not sitting right here beside me in my home every day.”
Alana has since moved on from seeing her mother daily, lost weight, started dating boyfriend Dralin Carswell in 2021, and is experimenting with careers in rap music under the name “Big Lana”, and stand-up comedy. Her boyfriend was arrested on 28 February 2023 for driving under the influence (DUI), fleeing police with Alana as the passenger, and outstanding warrants.
Mama June’s wanted to redeem herself since 2017
Mama June treated her daughters poorly over the years, primarily because she focused on toxic men that she dated. Luckily, her daughters are grown up and lead separate lives with significant others or husbands. Their mother made the most prominent attempt to reconnect when in 2017, WE granted her a TV show, “Mama June: From Not to Hot,”. She inspired them to begin their weight loss journeys, and two daughters also visited a plastic surgeon and were operated on. Moreover, the family had group therapy sessions to discuss their problems in the TV show.
Unfortunately, Mama June failed to grasp that opportunity, and returned to a toxic boyfriend. She was then irresponsible with money, emotionally unavailable, and was arrested, thus ruining her home life with Alana and the bonds she ‘d built with the other daughters.
Additionally, because of an eye operation for untreated cataracts, she was inactive during recovery, and gained some weight that she lost, giving her daughters another example of a setback. Thankfully, her daughters got past her problems, at least publicly. All four came to her formal wedding to Alabama mechanic Justin Stroud in February 2023, and were supportive since he affected their mother positively, despite being initially stand-offish toward him.
— Mama June (@MamaJune_BooBoo) March 31, 2022
Things are looking up for the Shannons
Based on current information, it looks like Mama June has healed; she’s married a stable and well-off boyfriend, and Justin works in real estate and construction. Additionally, he didn’t watch reality TV or know who she was beforehand; hence he’s not looking for 15 minutes of fame. Most importantly, Mama June stated that her daughters have no problems with him, and only grew closer to him after taking several family trips.
Although Alana and Anna made similar mistakes thanks to the lack of parenting and good father figures, both have better influences today. None of the daughters are living with Mama June, and based on her history of prioritizing men over children, that’s how it should have been from the start.