Oprah Talks to Brandy and Her Mother, Sonja Norwood
Brandy: But, Mom, I think experience is what teaches you who you are. And you did teach me about my worth. I don't regret a lot that's happened in my life. Everything I've been through has led me to where I am right now spiritually.
Sonja: But from my perspective, it's still painful. As a mom, you want your children to see themselves as worthy. I think the biggest mistake I've made as a parent is not homing in on how a [romantic] relationship can change who you think you are. If you're not strong enough to know who you are, it can take your identity away from you and make you someone you're not.
Oprah: And when you're in the music world—which truly is a world unto itself—that environment defines you. It's difficult for a parent to help her child focus on building characteristics like kindness, strength, and generosity.
Sonja: And no one ever teaches you how to be a parent—even after you have children, you're still inexperienced. I only know what it's like to be the parent of a 23-year-old. I can't tell you what it's like to be a parent to a 30- or 40-year-old. I'm still learning.
Oprah: When you were on my show, you said something very powerful—that there were times when you were a manager when you should have been a mother, and a mother when you should have been a manager.
Sonja: A lot of Brandy's problems revolved around her feeling that I was being more of a manager than a mother.
Brandy: I just wanted someone to listen to me, to see me as a human being. It seemed everyone treated me as if I were an item. I was too embarrassed to tell my mom about some of the things I was experiencing because of the good-girl image that had been created for me. I couldn't really express myself to anyone. The public thought, "Brandy would never do this or that." But I was doing those things.
Oprah: What things are you talking about?
Brandy: When I was 15, I fell in love with someone who was 20. When I tried to talk to Mom about it, she said, "You're not in love. You don't know what love is."
Oprah: When I was 14, I remember thinking I was in love. When you're a teenager going through your first stages of love, it's even more powerful and overwhelming than when you're older. And when you hurt as a kid, you don't know you'll heal because you don't have experience.
Sonja: Right. But you know what, Oprah? As a parent, you do listen when your child comes to you and cries. But when you say what you need to say, it's not what the child wants to hear.