Brandy: But you don't listen with your whole body and your whole mind.

Sonja: A parent isn't built to listen with her whole body and mind when she's talking about her 15-year-old daughter going out with a 20-year-old man! Whether she was a celebrity or not, I had the same fear all mothers do: that my daughter would get caught in a situation where a baby is making a baby.

Oprah: How did you resolve your conflict?

Brandy: We fought.

Sonja: Brandy stood her ground, and I stood mine. But her father and I allowed her to do things most parents wouldn't allow their children to do. Because she was a celebrity, she got away with murder. And I was there for all the pain that came from her being in a relationship with a 20-year-old—the things he said and did to her. I wanted to kill him!

Brandy: But that's life, Mom.

Sonja: It is, but nothing is more painful for a parent than to see your child in pain.

Oprah: But forbidding that relationship would have been like inviting it in, right?

Sonja: Oh, believe me—I've learned that! If you say yes, they're gonna say, "I don't want to do it." But if you say no, they'll do it anyway.

Oprah: An expert on my show once said that when children are going into the teen years, their parents become consultants instead of managers. As Brandy's mother and manager, how difficult was it to become her consultant?

Sonja: It was very hard. She'd say, "Mom, can't you call me sometimes without asking me to do something?" or "Can't we just go shopping or hang out without having a conversation about the business?" She didn't understand that I had people constantly calling me about contracts and commitments. But for a long time, I took the risk of her not liking me in order to make sure she would be secure and protected both financially and emotionally. Because she's my daughter, I negotiated hard for her. At the end of the day, I didn't want her to say, "Mom did nothing for me—I have no house, no car."

Oprah: No financial security.

Brandy: Yes, and that's why she took care of everything. But emotionally, I took care of me. As I've gotten older, our relationship has changed. I've started to really pay attention to myself because I hated the low self-esteem.


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