How I Raised Lady Gaga To Be More Than An Entertainer

And what her mom has to do with all of it.

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lada gaga

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As a mom, it is difficult to watch your child struggle. Sometimes, the obstacles they face are physical. But the mental and emotional challenges are just as heartbreaking and frustrating to witness.

When my daughter Stefani — who most people know as Lady Gaga — was a child, she was creative and unequivocally her own person. But her peers did not always appreciate the things that made her unique … and different. As a result, they would sometimes taunt, humiliate, or exclude her. This thoughtless cruelty by her peers led to self-doubt and, in time, to anxiety, depression, and destructive behavior. It was hurtful for her to experience and devastating for me to watch.

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When she started to speak out about her experiences at her shows, she found that so many of the young people she spoke with had endured similar situations. Again and again, we heard stories of depression, anxiety, and isolation hampering their ability to thrive personally and academically. But most worrying were the stories that included self-harm and suicide attempts. That’s why my daughter and I founded Born This Way Foundation.

Grounded in the belief that the world can — and must — be a kinder and braver place, our organization is working to inspire young people to lead the best life possible and empower them with the tools they need to get there. That means equipping youth with the Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) skills they need to manage their mental and emotional well-being, and allowing them to overcome the challenges they will face in the short term so that they can thrive in the long term.

With collaboration and the right investments, we can help our children build the kinder and braver world we need and they deserve.

An increasingly robust body of research is demonstrating the critical role emotions play in an individual’s ability to succeed throughout every facet of their lives. From physical health to academic and professional success, how someone feels has a tremendous impact on many key aspects of his or her life.

A recent analysis of 213 studies showed that students who have quality SEL instruction demonstrated improved attitudes and actions, fewer negative behaviors, and reduced emotional distress. Even more surprising, academic achievement scores were an average of 11 percentile points higher for students who received SEL instruction when compared to those who do not.

Flickr / Woodley Wonder Works

As the mother of a daughter who has faced, struggled with, and continues to overcome the very real effects of difficult emotions, I understand firsthand how important it is to take these issues seriously. I want to see a world where every child is empowered with the tools, resources, and services to ensure not only their physical health but their mental and emotional wellbeing as well. With collaboration and the right investments, we can help our children build the kinder and braver world we need and they deserve.

That’s what Born This Way Foundation is dedicated to doing, but we can’t do it alone.

Cynthia Bissett Germanotta is President and Co-founder of Born This Way Foundation, which was launched alongside her daughter, Stefani (Lady Gaga), in 2012 with the passionate intent to “empower youth” and “inspire kindness and bravery.

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The Global Moms Relay was created by the United Nations Foundation and Johnson & Johnson with support from BabyCenter, Global Citizen and Fatherly, to help improve the lives of families around the globe. Share this post with the hashtags #GlobalMom and #JNJ, and visit to learn more.

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