The “Real Housewives of New Jersey” star candidly opens up about her rocky relationship with her daughter, Ashley. An edited version of our phone interview follows.
by Ilyssa Panitz • More.com Celebrity Reporter
More: Why return to Real Housewives of New Jersey given your publicized, rocky relationship with your daughter, Ashley?
Jacqueline Laurita: There are contracts involved (laughs).
More: Good point.
JL: Look, there are good days and bad days. There are positive experiences and negative experiences. Despite what many people may think, this show has helped us in many ways.
More: How so?
JL: It opened up the doors of communication between me and my daughter Ashley. Because of this series Ashley has been able to see things from my perspective and I have been able to see things from her perspective, because our moments are recorded and then played back. Doing this has allowed us resolve our differences, which to me is a blessing.
More: What triggered Ashley’s bad behavior?
JL: We moved to New Jersey when Ashley was entering the fifth grade. Many of the girls who already lived here were in their cliques so it was hard for Ashley to fit in. In addition to that, Ashley had pressures at school and was dealing with some bullying. Then add into the mix that I got pregnant with her brother CJ. Although Ashley loved having a brother, the hard part for her was that a lot of time and attention went into taking care of a newborn.
More: Did Ashley have a hard time accepting that your boys’ father [Jacqueline's husband, Chris Laurita] lives with you while her dad [Jacqueline's first husband, John Holmes] lives in Texas?
JL: Yes, that did bother her. Ashley has four brothers on her dad’s side of the family and two with me and my husband Chris. I think there is a part of her that feels she missed out on having both her mother and father with her while she was growing up. Because Ashley lived with me and spent holidays with him, I think she struggled with always feeling like she was missing out on something.
More: Was Ashley’s dad a prominent figure in her younger years?
JL: Ashley’s dad was not that active in her life until later on. He was in and out of her life.
More: What is Ashley’s relationship with your husband?
JL: It is great. She calls Chris Dad and her dad, Daddy. Chris has been in Ashley’s life since she was five years old.
More: Fans have witnessed all of the drama and tension Ashley brings into your household. Has this situation put a lot of unwanted stress on your marriage?
JL: No. Chris and I are very strong and have an incredible connection. If anything, we work as a team playing good cop/bad cop.
More: How are you dealing with all of this?
JL: Good now. This past season was extremely hard for me. I had a daughter who moved across the country, two very small children who require a tremendous amount of attention, plus the pressures of the show. It’s been a lot.
More: On a recent episode, you and your husband kicked Ashley out.
More: What was the straw that broke the camel’s back?
JL: When we didn’t see a change in her behavior, I decided I needed to get her away from the cameras and off the show, regardless of what the contract says. Although Ashley is my daughter, she just wasn’t motivating. Ashley was going out all night, sleeping all day and not working toward a goal. Finally, my sister-in-law in Las Vegas offered to take her in and show her the other side of the tracks.
More: Sounds like a dose of tough love.
JL: We told Ashley, you cannot come back here until you have a concrete plan that you are ready to execute. You have to be enrolled in school, you have to have a job and you have to be active.
More: What was going through your head when Ashley walked out the door?
JL: I was scared to death because I am her mom and I will always worry. I don’t want her upset or angry with me. Your whole goal as a parent is to keep them safe and give them an easier life than what you had. No matter how hard I tried, I just could not get through to her.
More: Most people would deal with this behind closed doors. You went the opposite route and had the cameras rolling.
JL: I just let my life play out as it was happening. I don’t hide things. I live my life as an open book. When I go through something big, I like to talk about it because I tend to get advice and help. If someone can guide me and teach me a new technique I am open to hearing it.
More: Do you regret your decision?
JL: No, because it worked out very well. Although Ashley did not go to Texas after her visit in Las Vegas, she did move to California, which is something she had wanted to do for a long time.
More: Bring me up to speed on what Ashley is doing right now.
JL: Ashley is working, although she did have to downsize three times. She is learning how hard it is to earn money, buy things and support herself on a daily basis.
More: How is your relationship with Ashley today?
JL: It has never been better. We talk on the phone, we email, Skype and do Facetime. She even asks me for advice. The distance, for us, has been great. When we do get to see each other we never argue anymore.
More: Can you spy on her from across the country to make sure she’s OK?
JL: My best friend lives out there and she actually goes to spy on her for me so I have peace of mind.
More: How did you prepare your younger sons for her departure?
JL: My older son, CJ, knows that when you get older you go off to college and then you go to work. He understands that Ashley is at that point in her life. Nicholas has no clue because he is only two years old.
More: If she wanted to, is Ashley allowed to come home?
JL: I would not mind her being here if she was helpful. She needs to be in school, working, and to help out with her siblings. Also, Ashley is not allowed to be disrespectful. I have a million other things I am dealing with right now, and to me, Ashley needs to take this time to grow up, learn and get ahead.
More: With Ashley gone, is there less stress in your household?
JL: I confess, at first I did not miss the fighting, and yes, it did take some of the stress level off of the house. I might also add, her room has never been cleaner (laughs).
More: No matter what, you still love her?
JL: No matter what, I am her mom and I will always worry about whether she is safe, happy and OK. Although I miss taking care of her, I had to cut the bungee cord because it was her turn to fly and be free.