Denise Jonas interview excerpts from PARADE, where she recently broke the story that Nick Jonas is going solo. How did you raise such remarkable young men? ‘We loved them. It’s that simple. And we wanted them to be successful. And I don’t mean just successful in their music career. I mean successful as people, as individuals of quality character.
When the boys were little, we were looking to the future, so we tried to be students of our children, I mean, we studied each child to learn what makes him the individual he is, and how to deal with their different personalities, and how to raise them. We did different things for different ones. The standards were always the same, but when necessary, we approached it differently. We also emphasized consistency, boundaries, high standards, and constantly reinforced good conduct until it was behavior. We expected something from our children, and they always came through.’
What was the most important thing you did that shaped your sons’ personalities? ‘I don’t think I could focus on one thing as being the most important, although manners were always important to me. You know, sometimes the Jonas Brothers’s fans call out to me, ‘Denise! Denise!’, and my sons will correct them: ‘She is Mrs. Jonas.’ Or girls fuss over Frankie and say something like, ‘Oh, Frankie, you’re so hot!’, and Nick will call them on that. ‘Hot? He’s only 9!”
Did Kevin, Joe and Nick have to do chores? ‘Yes. They had to make their own beds, put away their clothes, their pajamas. To this day, they still help me with things when we’re actually home together. But they work so hard, so it’s harder for me to ask them to do things around the house.’
What were the Jonas Brothers like as children? ‘Kevin, the oldest, was the chatterbox, always talking, always getting in trouble at school for talking too much, always into something. Joseph was very quiet. It was easy to blame him for things. I hear funny things now from Kevin about how he would lie that Joseph did something when it was really him, and Joseph would get in trouble. Joseph was very, very sweet but didn’t speak much, which is very funny now, because now he’s so different. Nicholas was always the serious one. So serious that people are intimidated by him just because they think he doesn’t like them. That’s his demeanor. He’s not very expressive; he’s just thinking, It’s his wisdom, less speak, but quick to listen.‘
How do you deal with the constant spotlight that your famous sons live under? ‘The spotlight is always on, and I am always worried. My sons are human, they err, and they will err. And there’s always somebody looking to see if they will make a mistake. And they will, and I’m not going to be surprised, and I’m not going to be shocked, and I’m not going to disown them. I love them.
And if they do make a mistake, I expect them to learn how to deal with it, to pick themselves up, and move on. We all make mistakes. We all have things that come our way that are difficult. Then also, there’s always more than one side to every story. I just ignore a lot of that stuff. It’s all negative.’
Is there anything you would change about your sons?
‘I wouldn’t change anything, other than Nick’s diabetes. But this ‘detour’ has been a backdoor blessing. Nick has brought a whole new wave of understanding to diabetes and helped countless people. I see it at the concerts, the way people respond to him when he sings ‘Just A Little Bit Longer.’ Lives have even been saved, it’s amazing how many people didn’t know about diabetes or its symptoms.’
Have you ever shown favoritism to any of your sons? ‘Favoritism, no. But I think that for certain reasons, at certain times, one child may need more nurturing than another. I’ve seen that with all of my sons at different stages, with different hormones going on in their bodies, certainly I’ve seen that. But it’s certainly not about being more proud of one son than the other, or having a favorite. But within the entertainment industry, I have seen instances where a parent has a favorite child or favors one of their children over another, and that breaks my heart.‘