Jennifer Lopez Shares How Her Kids 'Saved' Her

Jennifer Lopez kidsOn the surface, Jennifer Lopez is an American success story. Raised by a poor family that scrimped and saved to send their three girls to Catholic school, Lopez has worked her way to a successful singing and acting career, producer credits, and a net worth said to be in the ballpark of $315 million. But Lopez is the first one to say she's made mistakes, and she's determined to make sure son Max and daughter Emme don't make the same ones.

In her new memoir, True Love, Lopez credits her now 6-year-old twins with saving her life, even as she reveals a paralyzing lack of self-esteem that dragged her through three marriages and subsequent divorces and a very public broken engagement from actor Ben Affleck. What was missing all those years?


Turns out it was love ... but not the romantic kind.

The Stir sat down with Lopez to find out how loving her children helped her even as she divorced their father, Marc Anthony, what kind of kids she hopes she's raising, and why she's not a "hoverer" as a mom.

On why she says her kids "saved" her:
I waited a long time to have children -- it really changed my whole perspective on love, life, the world, and made me a better person. It helped me grow.

They made me re-examine life and love. Because I love them so much, because of the unconditional feeling you have for a child, because of the feeling I had for my children when they were born immediately -- and how I wanted to protect them and take care of them -- it showed me what love should feel like, what it's like in its purest form.

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That made me re-examine some of the relationships in my life and what I had been doing for a very long time and what I had been accepting as true love. They made me realize if I didn't take care of myself and love myself in the way that I love them, then how could I ever have a great relationship? You have to love yourself before you can share that with somebody else.

On finding strength as a single mom:
It's not that you don't want their dad in their life. You do, but you just want to feel like it's not that you're not enough. You ARE. You can be whole on your own.

On not letting her kids make her mistakes:
I want to give them a sense of self, that they're good on their own, no matter what, that whoever comes along is supposed to add to their love and happiness that already exists inside of them. That's my main goal as a mom.

That's what I struggled with, that's what I learned in my 40s. I want them to know it from now.

On what kind of mom she is:
I'm just a very loving mom who wants them to be aware of the world around them. I want to teach them by example. I work hard; you have to work hard. 

I try to be charitable, so they know they have to be charitable because they're growing up more privileged than I was. I want them to be loving, I want them to be generous, I want them to be kind.

True Love Jennifer LopezI want to raise a good man who respects women in my son. I want to raise a woman who's independent and her own keeper but still capable of sharing that love when the right person comes along and knows how to treat her.

I'm not a hoverer. Obviously I work a lot, so I have to kind of let go. Sometimes I worry about the silly things -- I was telling my nanny a few days ago, "Just watch that they don't hit their heads! Max is doing the jumping thing now."

I'm awake thinking, GOD, I hope he doesn't bang his head! But you have to kind of let go and say, "I know they're going to be OK, everything's going to be fine." You have to believe and have faith that they have angels too.

On not letting her daughter be affected by how the media focuses on Mom's body:
When I grew up, I grew up with a bunch of Puerto Rican women, so our bodies were what they were. There was never any shame in anything. I noticed that about my mom. It was always, "This one has a big butt," or "This one's chunky," but nothing was ever talked about in a negative way.

Fat wasn't bad. Skinny wasn't bad. It was all fine.

I think that's how you have to be -- not put ideas in their head of what's better than the other, just "you're fine." Just be healthy, take care of yourself.

I'm more worried about her eating right, knowing what it is to eat healthy, knowing what it is to take care of yourself and exercise and not be caught behind a computer. Be very well balanced is more my focus with her. I know she will have influences in the outside world, like people picking her apart, but hopefully she'll be like me, because of how I was raised, that stuff doesn't bother me.

I know that I'm more than that, and I hope to give her that sense right now.

On what she hopes her kids see when they look back at her book and her life:
They help make me better. Their love saved me and they understand that last line in the book, that's the key to life. That's one of the major things you need to know. If you love yourself, you'll be able to take good care of yourself. That's all I want for them: when I can't take care of them anymore, they take care of themselves, that they love themselves enough to take care of themselves and that they helped teach me that.

What mistakes from your past are you working to prevent your kids from repeating? 


Images via Ana Carballosa; Penguin Random House

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