Vanessa Williams and her mother, Helen

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Vanessa's mother, Helen, says one thing she wishes she'd been able to do when she was raising her children is to show her love for them more easily. "I came from a family that did not display a lot of affection, not demonstrative at all with showing love or how you feel," Helen says. "And I wish it had been. It was never comfortable for me to be able to do that, and to this very day, I really have to work at it."

"There are many nights where I remember saying to my dad, 'Does Mom love me?' or 'Why can't Mom show me love?'" Vanessa says. "He said, 'Well, Mom's childhood was tough,'" Vanessa says. "And knowing that, knowing the reason, I wasn't searching or looking or hungry for it, because I understood it."

While Helen had to enforce rules a lot during her daughter's rebellious years, she believes Vanessa always knew it was in her best interests. "I wanted to raise a daughter who could be the best at what she wanted to be. And maybe her best would not be as good as somebody else's best, but it was her best," Helen says. "Fortunately, her best has been very good."

Vanessa says her mother has very high standards for her, and sometimes compliments are hard to come by. But Helen says she doesn't try to be her daughter's friend—she tries to be honest. "I'm her mother. She has friends, and I'm friends with some of her peers," Helen says. "But first I'm a parent, and I hope that I'm also a friend. But that's not the most important thing to me. The most important thing to me is that I'm her mother."
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FROM: Maria Shriver, Demi Moore, Vanessa Williams: A Mother's Day Special
Published on January 01, 2006

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