Denise Speaks Out About Raising Three Superstars
The Jonas Brothers just launched a seven-month international tour that will take them from Lima to London by way of Stockholm and Sweden. But behind the scenes of this sold-out World Tour, the important roles will be filled by the rest of the family: the father, Kevin Sr., co-manages the group; the youngest brother, Frankie, 9, has a fledgling music and movie career of his own; and, last but not least, the No. 1 woman in all their lives–the matriarch of the family, Denise Jonas, is the stabilizing, loving presence.
This week, the mom who raised her three super-star sons to be respectful, clean-cut and, simply put, super nice came forward to speak up on behalf of all mothers. Denise Jonas has a new role: She is an ambassador for iMOM (iMom.com ), a new program from the non-profit Family First to help women be better, happier moms by providing support online, in school, and in person. “Mothers begin to feel as if they’re in a vacuum,” says Jonas. “This program gives them resources, other mothers to talk to and listen to, and tips for tackling parenting issues as they happen.”
We caught up with Denise Jonas shortly after her appearance at a grammar school in Brooklyn, N.Y., where she participated in an “iMom Morning”–a monthly learning-and-bonding event that takes place in 350 public schools across the country.
How did you raise such remarkable young men?
“We loved them. It’s that simple. And we wanted them to be successful. And I don’t mean just successful in their music career. I mean successful as people, as individuals of quality character. When the boys were little, we were looking to the future, so we tried to be students of our children–I mean, we studied each child to learn what makes him the individual he is, and how to deal with their different personalities, and how to raise them. We did different things for different ones. The standards were always the same, but when necessary, we approached it differently. We also emphasized consistency, boundaries, high standards, and constantly reinforced good conduct until it was behavior. We expected something from our children, and they always came through.”
Can good mothering be taught?
“I had a great mom to learn from. Still, I was young when I became a mother. So I tried to get my hands on as much good mothering material as I could. I read, I listened, and I talked to other moms. I watched moms that I thought were good and even moms that I thought were making mistakes so I could learn from that. So the answer is to be good student–study your kids to see what they need from you. Mostly, I think that kids want your time. They want you to notice them. This week, I was asking Frankie, who’s only 9, about what makes a good parent. And he said to me, ‘I think it’s good to listen to your children when they’re talking.’ I think he’s right.”
And what about the moms who feel overwhelmed?
“Today, I think that moms put so much pressure on themselves to raise good kids–especially single moms. I feel for moms that are doing this alone–and for single dads too. They take a lot upon themselves. I have a lot of friends in that situation. My closest girlfriend is a widow, and she is raising a wonderful daughter–and recently, she lost her mother. That is just so much pressure. The most important thing you can do for your children is to love them and spend time with them. It can be the simplest thing like doing arts and crafts with them or leaving a love note for your child on his or her pillow.”
Was your goal in life to be a good mother?
“My whole life, I wanted to be a mother. I wanted to be married and have children and be a homemaker. I could have had a career, and I did work a lot outside the home, but my husband and I always felt that we’d rather do without, say, not going out to eat on Saturday night, than have me not be home for our children. To make ends meet, Kevin sometimes worked several jobs. At one point, we had three boys under 5. My husband directed a music group for a Christian institute, and we would spend months on the road, much the way we travel now. Now, I look back and think, ‘How did I do that with the car seats, the bottles and the diapers?’”
What was the most important thing you did that shaped your sons’ personalities?
“I don’t think I could focus on one thing as being the most important, although manners were always important to me. You know, sometimes the Jonas Brothers’s fans call out to me, ‘Denise! Denise!’, and my sons will correct them: ‘She is Mrs. Jonas.’ Or girls fuss over Frankie and say something like, ‘Oh, Frankie, you’re so hot!’, and Nick will call them on that. ‘Hot? He’s only 9!’”
When they were growing up, did Kevin, Joe and Nick have to do chores?
“Yes. They had to make their own beds, put away their clothes, their pajamas. To this day, they still help me with things when we’re actually home together. But they work so hard, so it’s harder for me to ask them to do things around the house.”
What were the Jonas Brothers like as children?
“Kevin, the oldest, was the chatterbox–always talking, always getting in trouble at school for talking too much, always into something. Joseph was very quiet. It was easy to blame him for things. I hear funny things now from Kevin about how he would lie that Joseph did something when it was really him–and Joseph would get in trouble. Joseph was very, very sweet but didn’t speak much, which is very funny now, because now he’s so different. Nicholas was always the serious one. So serious that people are intimidated by him just because they think he doesn’t like them. That’s his demeanor. He’s not very expressive; he’s just thinking, It’s his wisdom–less speak, but quick to listen.”
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