Melissa Etheridge has many hats – singer, songwriter, environmentalist, breast cancer survivor – but undoubtedly her most important one is that of mom to her four kids: Bailey Jean, Beckett, and twins, Johnnie Rose and Miller Steven. In light of her 10th album, Fearless Love, (out April 27th), Melissa spoke to Babble about teaching her kids to live fearlessly, her advice for non-traditional families, and why she’s a fan of Taylor Swift. – Andrea Zimmerman
The name of your album is Fearless Love. What would you tell your kids that “fearless love” means?
There’s a place of balance within themselves – and within every human being. There’s a place of calm, peaceful, perfect vibration and balance. As my kids make choices in how they react to life, that place will either vibrate peacefully with a loving choice or will feel bad with a fearful choice. And if they always use the little barometer inside of them – that little gauge – then they can live a peaceful and fearless life.
Do you ever run your songs by your oldest kids when you’re in the process of brainstorming?
I do! This is one of the first albums where they understood what I was doing. I’d bring them in my office and have them listen. I take their opinions as an outlet. They won’t say, “Oh, that’s a bad song,” they’ll say, “That song doesn’t speak to me.” But that’s okay – there are adult themes [in my songs] that shouldn’t speak to them! But both kids told me they think this is my best album ever. That means a lot to a mom!
What kind of music do your kids listen to?
They have pretty different tastes; they meet in the middle at about Nickelback (laughs). My son is very rock ‘n roll; he’ll listen to Jimi Hendrix and Foo Fighters. He can barely stomach any of the pop stuff. My daughter has a sugary pop tooth – but not too much. She’s a big Taylor Swift fan; she likes Owl City.
What advice do you have for moms who have less traditional families?
Live fearlessly – for yourself and your children. Know that the love you have for your kids is the only fuel they need and the only thing that will protect them and yourself. Know that love is more powerful than anyone’s fear or anyone’s misunderstanding of your life and your happiness.
You speak out on a lot of things that you’re passionate about: gay rights, breast cancer, and environmentalism. What example do you hope to set for your kids?
I hope they can find a place of respect inside themselves. I hope I can be an example when choices come into their life and show them they don’t have to be afraid if they don’t look a certain way. I hope to inspire them.
What’s your parenting philosophy?
Love and strong boundaries. As much love as you can possibly slather on – with a hold of your own sensibility.
How do you manage a public tantrum?
Kids have to learn by the age of two that you are the parent, and they are the child. If you’re consistent at home and in public, then a simple look or a “Hey, knock it off” will do it. They’ll get that [good behavior] is expected everywhere.
What shocked you the most about being a parent?
How much I love it, how it calls to a part of myself that I didn’t know I had. It’s the greatest thing that ever happened to me.
What’s off-limits in your house?
There are certain guitars they know not to touch – don’t even get within a foot of it! But, mostly, I have a yes house.
What do you wish you knew as a new parent?
Don’t worry so much! It’s a long ride, and that thing you’re so worried about when they’re two or three? It’ll work out. Just hold on and love them. You are enough.
What can we expect from this album?
Rock and roll, soulful, deep, and putting it all out there like I’ve learned how to do.
Would you say it’s one of your best albums?
My kids tell me it is!