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Drew Barrymore Says Her Difficult Childhood Helped Her Become A Better Mother

"I didn’t have parents, I was the parent to them."

Drew Barrymore is one of the most famous actresses in the world. Known for her iconic roles in Charlie’s Angels, Never Been Kissed and 50 First Dates, she’s starred alongside the likes of Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu and Adam Sandler and even created her own show titled, The Drew Barrymore Show. Despite her international notoriety, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing for the actress, who has revealed a particularly chaotic upbringing which would shape the course of her life (for better and for worse). 

After launching her career at just seven years old in ET, Drew sadly went on to struggle with drug and alcohol problems. She recalls her father, actor John Drew Barrymore as being a ‘violent alcoholic’ who was barely present in her life, while her mother, aspiring actress Jaid, ‘wasn’t prepared’ for motherhood. 

Her parents divorced while she was aged nine, and her mother even took her to Studio 54 to party with her in the aftermath of her broken marriage. As Drew’s own addiction problems worsened, her mother placed her in a psychiatric hospital at age 13. 

“My mum put me there because she couldn’t cope with me any more but it was the best thing that happened to me,” she admitted. “It taught me boundaries. Until that point, I had none,” Barrymore said in a recent interview in The Mail on Sundays ‘You magazine. 

After spending 18 months there, Drew would go on to legally divorce her parents at 14. 


“I didn’t have parents, I was the parent to them,” Drew continued. 

“It was all totally upside-down, so I didn’t know what I was doing. When people would talk to me about parenting I felt like an outcast. It took years for me to pluck up the courage to say, “Can you speak to me as someone who is desperately trying to learn? Can you teach me?”

After her marriage to Will Kopelman (the father to her two daughters, Olive, aged nine and Frankie, aged seven) ended, Drew was worried she may be repeating her parents mistakes. 

“Divorce was my worst fear,” she told the publication. “It was something I never wanted to put my own children through. I felt broken. Truly, honestly broken.” 


“There is so much pressure in life, particularly on mothers, to get it right, to get it perfect. It confuses me when people get so righteous about parenting. It makes me feel defensive and small,” the actress admitted. 

Now, 5 years after her divorce, Drew said she feels ready to re-enter the dating pool, but the welfare of her daughters will always be her top priority. 

“I hope my experience growing up in an industry toxically riddled with vanity can help me be better with my kids.” 

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