Yes: 'Once they turn 18, you have to treat them as equals and friends'
Published 30/08/2011 | 05:00
Businesswoman and former model Berni Cafolla (45) says she considers her children among her closest pals -- and it seems the feeling is mutual.
"I'm not embarrassed to say I consider my mum to be one of my best friends," says son Jeffrey (20), a personal trainer at énergie Fitness in Dublin.
"As a teenager, when I started going to parties, I always felt I could talk to her about girls and sex.
"And today, I still go to her for advice or help picking presents for my girlfriend. My girlfriend loves spending time with her too -- she's definitely not the stereotypical mother-in-law from hell!"
With such a glowing review, chummy mummy-of-three Berni -- who also has an 18-year-old son, Jason and daughter Samantha (11) -- reckons anyone who has a problem with her parenting style, like Dr Poulter, can stick it.
"You can't just go into Eason's and buy a book on parenting," argues Berni. "There's no such thing as a right way or wrong way to raise kids.
"When we were growing up, a lot of things were cloak and dagger," she adds. "But in this day and age, you have to be realistic. As far as children are concerned, nothing is set in stone -- you have to have an open heart, head and mind."
"I've always warned my kids: 'Never lie to me' -- and I've had some shocking truths over the years, but it's better than sticking your head in the sand."
But Berni, who's currently turning her hand to TV production, admits she hasn't always been so liberal -- having frequently adopted the role of 'bad cop' in the Cafolla household.
"My husband Lorenzo is a real sweetheart, so when the kids were younger I was always the disciplinarian," she says.
"In some ways, I'm quite an old-fashioned mother -- I took away PlayStations, grounded them and would rattle the wooden spoon off the drawer. But once they turn 18, you have to treat them as equals and friends."
"Once when we were out, my friends thought she was my girlfriend," reveals Jeffrey.
"I was thrilled but he was mortified," laughs Berni.
"Mum's young-at-heart and I'm mature for my age, so I guess we meet somewhere in the middle," he adds. "Most of my friends say they wish they had a mum like her."
But glam mam Berni insists she knows where to draw the line: "If we go out for a drink with the boys, there's a cut-off time and I would never talk to them about my love life or sex life.
"There isn't a hope in hell of me fitting into Samantha's skinny jeans either," she adds. "Poor Carol Middleton gets awful flak for dressing like her daughters, but that doesn't make her a bad mother.
"Why do parents have to keep judging other parents all the time?"