The Scottish Mail on Sunday - 2021-11-21


My chaotic childhood made me a better mum

Charlotte Griffiths

By Padraic Flanagan

FORMER Hollywood wild child Drew Barrymore says her chaotic upbringing in a fractured family has made her a better mother to her two daughters. In an interview in The Mail on Sunday’s You magazine today, the 46-year-old also reveals how her 2016 divorce from Will Kopelman, the father of her children, triggered fears that history was repeating itself. ‘Divorce was my worst fear,’ she says. ‘It was something I never wanted to put my own children through. I felt broken. Truly, honestly broken.’ Drew’s parents divorced when she was nine. Her father, actor John Drew Barrymore, was a violent alcoholic who was barely in her life. Her mother Jaid, an aspiring actress, ‘wasn’t prepared’ for motherhood, Drew says. A star aged seven thanks to Steven Spielberg’s ET, Drew went on to have drink and drug problems and her mother placed her in a psychiatric institution at 13. She spent 18 months there and, at 14, Drew legally divorced her parents. ‘My mum put me there because she couldn’t cope with me any more but it was the best thing that happened to me,’ she admits. ‘It taught me boundaries. Until that point, I had none.’ Now Drew is a loving mother to Olive, nine, and Frankie, seven, despite never having a role model to teach her how. ‘I didn’t have parents, I was the parent to them. It was all totally upside-down,’ she says. ‘So I didn’t know what I was doing. When people would talk to me about parenting I felt like an outcast. It took years for me to pluck up the courage to say, “Can you speak to me as someone who is desperately trying to learn? Can you teach me?” ‘There is so much pressure in life, particularly on mothers, to get it right, to get it perfect. It confuses me when people get so righteous about parenting. It makes me feel defensive and small. ‘I’ve got love and humour but we’re all learning on the job. I don’t want to be my kids’ friend – I am their parent.’ Single since her marriage to art consultant Mr Kopelman ended, Drew is now dipping her toe in the dating world, but says her priority is her daughters, adding: ‘I hope my experience growing up in an industry toxically riddled with vanity can help me be better with my kids.’


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