Since the loss of their father on June 25, 2009, Michael Jackson’s three children have been dealing with an incredibly emotion set of events, including attending his memorial service, accepting the Lifetime Achievement Award on his behalf and trying to deal with their grief in a private way while under the guardianship of their grandmother, Katherine Jackson. With the recent arrest of Dr. Conrad Murray for Michael’s murder, Prince, 13, Paris, 11, and Blanket, 7, are facing an entirely new set of challenges.
Before Conrad’s arrest, Katherine’s attorney, Adam Streisand, told PEOPLE:
They’re doing great, thanks to the love and support they’ve gotten.
Close family friend, Kathy Hilton, added, “They’re getting along and they have an incredible family.”
The three children, who were previously kept masked when in public, have been spotted multiple times on outings with their family. “They like not wearing the masks,” says a close family source. “It’s a different experience for them.”
Prince, Paris and Blanket are currently residing at their grandmother’s Encino, Calif. estate with their cousins and other family members. According to Streisand, the children are flourishing in their new environment: “With the kids running around the house, laughing, playing, they’ve given each other a lot of joy.”
Another important figure in the kids’ lives is their nanny, Grace Rwaramba. Grace had previously worked for Michael and returned at the request of Katherine, though some family members have voiced their disapproval of her involvement. One source says, “Katherine’s made it very clear that it’s important to her that Grace is around. She knows the kids are more important to her than anything.”
According to the family source, Katherine and Grace are trying to keep the kids’ lives are normal as they can. The children are homeschooled, eat dinner as a family, they go to their karate lessons, the library and to church. “Katherine really listens to the kids,” says Streisand. “She wants to give them a sense of freedom when she can. She wants to encourage them.”
Another source commented on the confidence which Prince and Paris – who has expressed her desire to be a singer – have gained over the past few months:
It would have been hard to imagine them going out in public or showing up at someone’s house hanging out and playing video games before [their father died]. That had a lot to do with Michael, because every time he showed up there were bodyguards and [chaos]. And now, not so much. It feels much more normal and they’ve adjusted really well to that.
However, though their lives have changed drastically this year, their father’s voice is still very present: “Talking to Prince is like talking to Michael,” says the family source. “He’s so smart and mature – way beyond his age.”
The childrens’ grandfather, Joe Jackson, adds: “I was so proud of my grandchildren [at the Grammys]. But I’m always proud of them.”