Rihanna has said her childhood in Barbados made her a stronger person
Rihanna's relationship with her parents, Monica Braithwaite and Ronald Fenty, has evolved over the years.
The "Umbrella" singer was born and raised in Barbados alongside two of her five siblings. Since leaving the Caribbean island at age 16 and skyrocketing to success with her vocals and entrepreneurship skills, Rihanna has opened up about her difficult childhood and her strained relationship with her father, which they have since mended.
In honor of Braithwaite's birthday in 2022, Rihanna dedicated an Instagram tribute to her alongside a throwback photo of them. “Being on the verge of motherhood, unlocked new levels of love and respect I have for my mommy in a way that I could never explain!" the artist captioned it.
The milestone also made her realize how much she's like her mom. "It is weird," Rihanna told E! News. "I literally make all of the same faces. I say the same things. I clear my throat the same way. I move my mouth the same way. I either never noticed it or it never happened until I had a baby."
Here is everything to know about Rihanna’s parents, Monica Braithwaite and Ronald Fenty.
They have three children together
Braithwaite and Fenty have three children together: Rihanna (née Robyn Rihanna Fenty) and her two younger brothers, Rorrey and Rajad. Rihanna also has three half-siblings from her father’s previous relationships: sisters Samantha and Kandy and brother Jamie.
Over the years, Rihanna has shared glimpses of her relationship with Rorrey and Rajad on social media. Apart from joining his sister and A$AP Rocky for dinner, Rorrey has also supported her career milestones, like her Super Bowl halftime show in 2023, where he cheered her on from the stands.
Meanwhile, Rihanna and Rajad are so close she considers him her "son" and she's celebrated him on special occasions, like his birthday. Amid the family pictures, Braithwaite also appears alongside her three kids, who call her "impactful."
They raised Rihanna in Barbados
The couple raised their family in Bridgetown, Barbados, where their daughter lived until she was 16 years old. They occupied a bungalow on a street that has since been renamed Rihanna Drive.
Rihanna still considers Barbados home and documents her time there whenever she returns. In 2018, she captured one of her visits to the island and captioned an Instagram post featuring her parents, “home.”
They divorced when Rihanna was young
Braithwaite and Fenty separated when Rihanna was young and officially divorced in 2002 when she was 14.
The former couple had an intense relationship, in part due to Fenty's struggle with addiction. In 2009, Rihanna recalled her parents’ marriage in a 20/20 interview with Diane Sawyer as "abusive" with multiple incidents of domestic violence.
Rihanna has said that the stress of her parents’ marriage affected her health, giving her excruciating headaches at age 8. “I had to go through a lot of CAT scans. They even thought it was a tumor,” she told Entertainment Weekly in 2007.
After her parents divorced, she stopped having headaches. ”It’s not great memories. But it helped to build me and make me stronger," the entrepreneur shared.
Rihanna and her father have had a rocky relationship at times
Fenty’s relationship with his singer daughter has had its ups and downs.
After Rihanna was assaulted by her then-boyfriend Chris Brown in 2009, her father reportedly spoke to the press about the incident without his daughter's consent. Two years later, the "Only Girl" vocalist addressed the matter in an interview with Vogue, in which she called the situation "really strange."
"You grow up with your father, you know him, you are a part of him, for goodness' sakes!" she said, per Billboard. "And then he does something so bizarre that I can’t begin to wrap my mind around it."
The following year, Rihanna revealed to Oprah that she "repaired" her relationship with Fenty. The artist opened up about confronting how "angry" she was at him for her childhood experiences and began trying to separate who he was as a father and husband.
"He taught me everything, and as awful as he was to my mom, at times, it didn’t compare to how great he was as a father," she said. "And I had to come to terms with that, and I was able to close that gap with him.”
Most recently, in 2019, Rihanna sued her father for allegedly exploiting her name for financial gain. PEOPLE reported that the pop star claimed, among other complaints, that her father founded a talent development company in 2017 called Fenty Entertainment, posing as Rihanna‘s manager to solicit new clients.
Three weeks before the case went to trial in 2021, Rihanna filed to dismiss the lawsuit, according to BBC.
Rihanna's mother inspired her definition of beauty
Despite staying busy with her continuously growing empire, Rihanna remains close with her mom and frequently shares tributes to Braithwaite in interviews and on social media.
In 2018, she dedicated her birthday to her mother. “Thank you for carrying me, birthing me, raising me, supporting me, teaching me, and loving me unconditionally!" the Grammy winner wrote alongside pictures of herself on Instagram. "The woman I am today is because of everything that you are!"
Since then, the Fenty Beauty founder has revealed that her mom is her biggest beauty inspiration. In an interview for Vogue with A$AP Rocky, she named Braithwaite as her No. 1 icon.
“My entire concept of beauty came from her,” Rihanna said. “I was always so intrigued by her. I wanted to dress like her, I wanted to look like her, I wanted to do my hair like her, I wanted to do my makeup like her.”
She echoed similar words in a conversation with Harper's Bazaar in 2007. "She knew everything about perfume, skin care and makeup,” Rihanna said. “She never let me wear makeup, but I was secretly fascinated. So, when she’d leave home, I would play around with hers.”
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