Madonna Defends Her Parenting Style: Is She Tough Enough?

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Madonna Defends Her Parenting Style: Is She Tough Enough?
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(Madonna)

It's not easy being a mom -- even if you're Madonna! The Material Girl kicked off the new year with controversy (what else is new?), but this time it was more about her unconventional parenting style than her pop music.

The singer recently shared an Instagram picture of her 13-year-old son Rocco Ritchie holding a bottle of gin, flocked by two young pals holding two vodka bottles. The caption: "The party has just begun! Bring it! 2014."

While critics slammed the 55-year-old superstar for glamorizing underage drinking, Madge told everyone to pipe down, later explaining: "No one was drinking we were just having fun! Calm down and get a sense of humor! Don't start the year off with judgment!"

The Grammy-winning singer, who has three other children -- Lourdes, 17, David, 8, and Mercy James, 7 -- has long had to defend her parenting style, and she's had to do so from the beginning.

When Madonna adopted son David Banda from Malawi, fellow adopting mom Angelina Jolie told the French magazine Gala that the pop singer should have been aware of the African country's sketchy adoption laws. Jolie was quoted as saying. "In that country, there isn't really a legal framework for adopting. Personally, I prefer to stay on the side of the law."

Madonna fired back in defense of the adoption, telling Time: "Look, I could have joined the U.N. and become an ambassador and visited various countries and just kind of showed up and smiled and looked concerned." (Jolie later told People that she wasn't criticizing Madonna for adopting a child from Malawi.)

In an interview last summer with "Good Morning America," the pop icon admitted that watching her children grow up has been "kind of uncomfortable," adding, "Seeing my daughter at 16 … She's still my little girl and also a woman … Ever since my daughter got an iPhone, she stopped talking to me."

She also dished that her tween son was suddenly "a foot taller, facial hair, looking at girls' butts." She added: "It's terrible."

In a 2012 interview with NBC, the singer talked about her struggles as a single mom of four, and made it clear that she's anti-smoking, explaining that a cigarette in one of her videos was just a prop. "Every day is a negotiation, but cigarette smoking I'm not very fond of," she said of a pic that surfaced of then-15-year-old Lourdes smoking a cigarette. "I don't approve of anyone smoking, especially my daughter."

"To be a single mother of four and to work as much as I do, with my life in a kind of metaphorical fish bowl, it's pretty challenging," she dished. "But so far I've survived with sanity and humor intact ... I'm probably not as tough as I should be. I think I need to be maybe tougher."

But Madonna's son has come to his mom's defense in the past, and he said she's no pushover. During a 2012 appearance on Ellen DeGeneres' talk show, Rocco said: "She's a good mother. Yes. That's all I have to say. She's very strict, but in a good way."

As for her own growing pains, in an essay for Harper's Bazaar last year, Madonna revealed that she didn't spend her teen years drinking beer and smoking pot in the school parking lot because "that's what everybody did." Her idea of being a rebel? "I thought it was cooler to not shave my legs or under my arms," she revealed.

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