Demi Lovato recalls how being 'the breadwinner' as a teen led to family tension

Demi Lovato recently discussed navigating childhood stardom and parent-child boundaries with another star who shot to fame early on, Drew Barrymore.

On Wednesday’s “4D with Demi Lovato” podcast, the two spoke about the strain early fame placed on their respective families.

“I noticed that when I came into the spotlight at a young age and then was the breadwinner … there wasn’t a manual for my parents to read and say, ‘Here’s what to do to raise a child star,'” recalled Lovato, who identifies as non-binary and prefers they/them pronouns.

“They didn’t get that,” Lovato continued. “So when they would try to ground me at 17, I would say, ‘I pay the bills.’ And I cringe now when I think about that attitude. But when the world is putting you on a pedestal, you kind of think that you could do no wrong.”

“As I’ve gotten older, I see my parents just as big kids themselves,” they said.

“I don’t think it’s the world and the pedestal,” Barrymore responded. “I think it’s the parent-child dynamic that gets completely reversed.”

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“No wonder you won’t take an order from an authority figure who’s no longer an authority figure because you’ve now reduced them down with finances and responsibilities,” she went on.

Barrymore then spoke more about the evolution of her relationship with her own mother, whom she said is now in a “really good place” after many years of separation.

“I — for 20 or 30 years — felt toxic inside, that I had to keep separating myself from her to gain an autonomy and a structure and boundaries and burn my hand on the stove and learn and everything on my own,” she said.

“I realized that her and I were friends — we were not parent and child, and therefore I had to completely relearn what parent child dynamic is,” she continued.

The talk show host said they were eventually able to find common ground later in her life.

“It took me a long time and I couldn’t have a relationship with her until I figured that out for myself and could come to her as a woman — and not a damaged child and not have that baggage,” Barrymore said. “I didn’t want to carry it. I didn’t want to project that on to her, I didn’t want to feel guilty because I didn’t have this magical relationship with her.”

“We would come together when we were whole people and meet on a different playing field,” she added.

She said that evolution proved to her that change is possible. “Boy, were we thrown in a blender, as far as parent and child,” she shared about her relationship with her mom. “And I told my own kids, ‘I will never be your friend … I’m your parent. I’m not your friend.'”

The actress has two daughters, Frankie, 7, and Olive, 8, with her ex-husband Will Kopelman.

You can watch the entire podcast on YouTube.

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