Angelina Jolie aside, Nicole Richie’s transformation from ultimate trouble-making bad girl to role model and mum is one of the most surprising turnaround tales in Hollywood history.
Now a co-founder of charity, The Richie Madden Children’s Foundation and a spokeswoman for Unicef, the 31-year-old last week spoke out about how she’s raising her two children, daughter Harlow, four, and son, Sparrow, three, the exact opposite way she herself was raised by adoptive parents Lionel Richie and Brenda Harvey.
Telling DuJour magazine, “One of the biggest differences in the way I’m raising my kids versus the way I was raised is that I was on tour a lot. I don’t really do that with my kids. It’s important to me that they have stability. I like them to be home.” And the reality TV star and designer also revealed how years of hands-off parenting lead her down the route of drug addiction, rehab and eventual arrest.
First spotted dancing on stage and shaking a tambourine with the musician Prince (her aunt, Sheila E, was a long-time Prince collaborator), Nicole was famously taken into the Richie household after Lionel’s then-wife, Brenda, was unable to have children; was put into therapy at the age of three and was later formally adopted by the pair at the age of nine.
Scene delves into Nicole’s past, to reveal why she’s adamant she won’t raise her kids how she herself was brought up…
Teaching her kids the 'no' word
Nicole, whose biological parents, musician father Peter Michael Escovedo and mother Karen let her move in with the Richies when she was two, with the star spilling, “My parents were friends with Lionel, they trusted that they would be better able to provide for me”, has admitted that she was allowed unlimited freedom as a child – and when Lionel and Brenda went through a public and bitter divorce, never denied her anything due to their guilt over the break-up.
“Their way of making me happy was to say yes to everything I wanted, but I don’t think a little girl should have that much freedom”, says Nicole of
And the star has revealed that it was meeting her man-of-six-years, Joel Madden, which saved her from a path of drugs and destruction after the Good Charlotte rocker told her to get straight or lose him.
“Joel gave her an ultimatum and threatened to leave her unless she cleaned up,” said an insider after Nicole’s December 2006 arrest for DUI, which saw her admit to having used marijuana and Vicodin, resulted in her serving 82 minutes of a four-day sentence in jail.
“She said she liked how Joel was a ‘good mama’s boy’ in a bad boy body,” said a pal of their romance. “He took her from that dark path she was heading toward and turned her around into a truly responsible person.”
From drugs to diaper duty
“Her parents let her do whatever she wanted. Now she has strict rules,” revealed one source about Nicole’s approach to parenting, and although she once polluted her body with drugs, the 31-year-old is now vehemently anti-toxins.
“Nicole is obsessed with doing everything she can to try to keep her children healthy and safe,” said an insider. “She insists on everything being organic. The food, the diapers, the clothing. She’s always at Whole Foods.” And Nicole herself admits, “We don’t use baby wipes, we use cloth with water.”
Having revealed of growing up, “I was taken out of school and had tutors. By the time my father went on stage, I was asleep,” the star and her husband, Joel, have spilled that they intend to keep their two kids in one school in LA, and are also big on planning for the future.
“She’s really good with the kids. I’m really good with finances,” says the Good Charlotte rocker of their team work. “All of Harlow’s education and all that stuff, I already have planned.”
Letting go of the past
Dad Lionel famously accompanied Nicole when she went to rehab for substance abuse back in 2003, finally admitting of his relationship with his adopted daughter, “We’re all facilitators. We’re the ones allowing our people to be OK every day when they’re not. I came out of that clinic a changed person. I came out thinking, ‘I’m a co-dependent person.’” But the Fashion Star judge insists she doesn’t blame her parents for her problems.
“Look, I don’t know anyone who can’t say they don’t just try and do the best that they can do,” she says of being a parent. “There’s no right or wrong way to raise a family.”
And having careered down the wrong side of the tracks, Nicole admits to having a more relaxed outlook to her friends when it comes to dealing with outside influences on Harlow and Sparrow.
“I was talking to a friend of mine, who has two little girls, about a certain singer whose name I won’t mention. He was really upset, saying she wasn’t a good role model for his kids,” said Nic. “But here’s the thing: that girl is 20-something, so she shouldn’t be a role model to your little girls. She’s human, and it’s unrealistic to put people on a pedestal and expect that they’re not going to make mistakes.”