Cher: A Single Mom

Cher: A Single Mom
Robin sits down with her dear friend, Cher, to discuss family, parenting and motherhood.Robin: When you had children, did you plan to be a mother?

Cher: I always, always wanted to be a mother.

Robin: I've said more than once that I really believe I was put on this earth to be a mother. I've never questioned for a second that I am doing what I'm supposed to be doing.

Cher: I think I just thought I would be. It was really hard for me because I had lost four children before Chas, and I had to lay in bed for the first three months and then I had to just stay in the house. So I learned how to play pool, and learned French, so it wasn't a total loss, and then after I became a mother I thought what have I been doing all this time? What did I do before I did this? Chastity, she was my new best friend. It was just the most fun. It was like every day is Christmas.

Robin: Do you regret at all being a single mother?

Cher: Oh, it's a terrible thing. I believe that it's really important for children to have two parents.Robin: Who did you model yourself after as far as a mother? Did you want to be like your mother? Was there anyone you said, "I want to be like her. I want to be that kind of mother"?

Cher: No, I had no confidence. It's like everything I do, I never have an ounce of confidence, I just do things. And I was really terrified with Chas because I just thought, "How am I going to do this?" But Sonny had so much confidence and I kind of followed him ... I kind of noticed how free Sonny was. He would have Chas under one arm, making sauce, telling me to do something. He was so easygoing, so I kind of modeled myself after him.

Robin: Did you choose roles as parents? Was he more permissive or were you more permissive?

Cher: I was much more permissive; he was very strict. He comes from that Sicilian background, so he was strict. But she never did one thing wrong. She never did a thing wrong. Never, it was unbelievable. It was just who she was. Also, we were on the road when she was 6 weeks old and we didn't stop. We started doing the Sonny and Cher show when she was 2. So she was out there with older people, with grown-ups. The first time I took her to kindergarten, she was sobbing, she was so frightened to be there because she just was terrified of little kids.
Robin: Phillip talks about how it's important to have a rhythm in the home. Do you think you had a rhythm in your family?

Cher: No. The only rhythm that we had was me doing my work.

Robin: You were a career mother. Do you have any regrets about being a working mother?

Cher: Yeah. Of course. Because you can't do it all good, you know. So I'm sure a lot of times my kids suffered greatly because of that. When they were young, I could just drag them with me. So we would go all over and they liked it, I mean, it was their life, they didn't know that it wasn't fun. And for them, it was. There were around a whole bunch of people who loved them to death, dancers and singers who would take them everywhere so that they had a good time. But then there were times after that, it's just not that much fun.

Robin: So you think your career was a burden for them?

Cher: Oh, God, yeah. There's no getting around it, that's what it was.
Robin: Do you ever feel the need to apologize to them for it now? What would you say to them?

Cher: I would say that I had no idea what I was doing. I never really knew how to do it from the get go. That I screwed up like crazy. I was selfish a lot too. I could've made a different choice, but I was so young. You know, I had been with Sonny from the time I was 16 to 27, and when I left him, I was still 16. I hadn't made any progress, truthfully ... So I made a lot of bad choices. Do I wish I had done things different? Absolutely.

Robin: What would you have done different?

Cher: I would've had more stability, but it's really hard in my job. It doesn't necessarily mix well with having children. It's like Kate Hepburn said, 'If you're going to do this job, don't have kids.' But I wanted them. My life would have been nothing without them.

Robin: What else would you have told them that you were happy about? That you were proud of?

Cher: I'm proud of, in this lifetime, they both have got great morals. They tell the truth, they root for the underdog, they have respect for people. The things that my mom made me think were the most important things, my children have them.Cher discusses the differences with parenting a daughter versus a son:

Cher: Chas had one bad stretch. She was 13, and she was not getting along at school. She just didn't like kids her own age and she was, you know, going through the teenage time. And there was nothing I could do. I got her for her birthday a summer acting thing. And she looked at me and went, "I'm not going to do that." So I walked into her room and said, "Babe, you might not finish it, but you're going to go once." And she just like harrumphed, but she knew I wasn't kidding. And she went one day, and she came back and her whole life was changed. It was a transformation.

Robin: And how did that make you feel as a mother?

Cher: Well, it made me feel great, except I finally lost her because she got a scholarship at the High School of the Performing Arts — the Fame school — and I didn't think it was going to take her there. But I thought: You know what? She loves this, this is the most important thing to her. It's made her shine and be this open person, and it's given her her own self — not being in my shadow, not being in her dad's shadow, being someone who's got great value who's named Chastity Bono.
Robin: If she had to write a list of her pivotal moments in her life, would she list that one?

Cher: I think she would, yeah.

And you would too.

Cher: Yeah. It was a big moment for me.

Robin: What about Elijah?

Cher: Oh, he and I have such a bizarre relationship. We've had so many strange moments. I don't really understand him. Like, I can sit down and have a much more rational conversation with Chastity. Somehow Elijah and I kind of talk through osmosis.

Robin: Are you close?

Cher: We're very close. I don't argue as much with Chas. Elijah and I argue all the time. Chas and I talked for two hours the other day. We were actually talking about her dad. Things she didn't remember and things she couldn't have known and, you know, just reminiscing. But Elijah, he's a boy, you know?
Robin: Why do you think that is? I've raised two boys and I cannot imagine myself raising a daughter ... What was the hardest part about raising your son?

Cher: We had our first fight, he was 9 months old and we had a fight. How do you fight with a 9-month-old child?

Now, do you think that was because you raised him more as a single parent than you did Chastity?

Cher: No, it was just they had completely different personalities. He's very intelligent, very intelligent. He is constantly reading — must've gotten that from my sister. His mind is very expansive. He just dances to his own tune and doesn't really care. She's much the stronger of the two. She's got her feet planted on the ground. He has his feet firmly planted in the air.

Robin: Did it scare you to be the mother of a son?

Cher: Yeah, it scared me to death, and that's something that he and I have talked about a lot.
Robin: Has he had a strong male influence in his life?

Cher: Well, he's had a couple of them. His godfather has always been there. The greatest guy in the world. A couple of my boyfriends: he loved Val Kilmer, loved him, still loves him to this day. Loved Joshua Donen, still loves him to this day. Loves Gene Simmons, loves him to this day. I don't know if that's enough. His father was not there. He just was never there. He never saw his dad.

Do you worry about him to this day?

Cher: I worry about both of them. You know, like my mom looks at my sister and I and still calls us "the kids," which I think is completely ridiculous, but I think that that's the way I feel about my children. Your children are just your children. They're little.

Robin: They'll be babies all their lives. All their lives.
Back in the studio, Dr. Phil turns to Robin: "As long as I've been a fan of Cher, and as long as I've known her, I'm sometimes so overwhelmed by her talent because you know she's been doing this for five decades. She's continued to reinvent herself and so you see this massive talent and it's not that I'm surprised, I just don't often think about how insightful and intelligent she is."

"She's a very strong woman," says Robin. "And very devoted to raising her children the right way, very devoted as a daughter, sister. A very strong woman."

"I think the road looks glamorous, but we know when you're out on tour it can get real lonely," says Dr. Phil, pointing out that Cher and Robin stay in touch through e-mails.

Robin shares a story of what happened after being at one of Cher's concerts last year: "This is what kind of friend she is. She's just performed, and we were in our car leaving and my cell phone rings and it's her. She hasn't been off the stage I don't think 30 minutes, and she goes, 'Robin, I saw where your seats were and I'm so sorry, I think they could've been better.'"

"We were right up in the front row! We'd have to be up dancing if we were going to be any closer than that," jokes Dr. Phil.
"Why do you think she has such a hard time with boys? You find it real easy," says Dr. Phil.

"I know. That kind of surprised me. I think because she didn't have his father there all the time and didn't have a strong male influence every day in his life," says Robin.

"Do you think she thinks she's a good mother? Do you think she's at peace about the job she's done as a mother? Because she said earlier, she thought her celebrity and her career was a burden."

"Yes," responds Robin. "Yes, because while her career was a burden, it was necessary, and she knows that. And she needed to do that to survive, to be a good mother and to raise her children, and to take good care of them. So yes, I think she thinks she's a very good mother. Because she is. And she's not just a mother to her own children, she mothers pretty much her entire crew, her mother, her sister, her entire family, even her friends. She's very, very nurturing."