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Inside Kelly Clarkson's Traumatic Childhood: How Her Father Affected Her Love Life

Dec. 11 2020, Published 6:34 p.m. ET

It’s been a tough year for Kelly Clarkson ever since news broke that she filed for divorce from her husband, Brandon Blackstock, after seven years of marriage. 

Since then, the 38-year-old has been honest about what she has been going through, explaining that her split is “horrible.” 

“There are so many hard parts,” she said on The Kelly Clarkson Show in December. “The hardest for me is the kids. That’s the hardest part for me. … I think as women we are trainedAlicia Keys and I were talking earlier — to take it all on and you can deal with it and you’re fine, but it’s your babies that you worry about.”

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The singer — who shares daughter River Rose, 6, and son Remington Alexander, 4, with Blackstock — had a tough time growing up, and it’s clear that she doesn’t want her kids to experience what she went through. 

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Keep reading to find out how Clarkson’s relationship with her father affected her life

The Grammy winner’s hit “Because of You” — which was released in 2004 — gave insight into what happened between her and her biological father, Stephen Michael Clarkson, following her parents’ messy divorce. Stephen didn’t keep in touch with Kelly’s mom, Jeanne Taylor, following their split, which really hurt the Hollywood star. (Kelly was 6 years old when her dad left.) 

Clarkson tried to reach out to Stephen, but she was rejected. During a 2017 interview, she said her relationship with her father was “toxic” and was curious if “he was even capable of love.” 

In the song, she sings, “Because of you / I never stray too far from the sidewalk / Because of you / I learned to play on the safe so I don’t get hurt.” 

“It’s about the cycle of families, like you act how your parents acted towards you and then your kids act how you acted towards them, and it’s all about breaking that cycle if it was a bad one … It’s very close to him for me,” she told MTV News in 2005. 

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“I OK’d it with my family and everything because they think it’s important, because we’re obviously very different now than we were when we were younger. And it’s important for people to see that raw kind of emotion that happens in life.” 

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Kelly — who is the youngest of three children — revealed that she grew up without her siblings: Her sister lived with her aunt, her brother stayed with her dad, and Kelly grew up with her mom. Despite having separate homes, the siblings are all very close. As for Kelly’s dad? He got remarried and had two sons with his second wife

Kelly’s mother remarried but split from her second husband when she was 19 years old. After seeing so many relationships not work out, she was hesitant about falling in love. 

“Divorce isn’t fun,” she told the Mirror in January 2012. “It affects relationships you get into when you are older. I think you have to work a little harder because you’re constantly thinking it’s probably not going to work out in the end.” 

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In 2015, Clarkson released “Piece by Piece,” which also spoke about how her relationship with her father made her into the woman she is today. 

“I had my daughter River, and even from holding her the first day, I was like, ‘How could anyone walk away from that?’ Then, I started thinking that my husband is such a great father,” she continued. “He’s not an audience guy — he is onstage doing the work with me. He changes diapers, he stays up, and if I’ve had a late night, he’ll wake up with her in the morning. We’re definite partners, and I felt so lucky.

“I was talking to my sister on the phone about how sometimes girls with daddy issues don’t find me like that!” she said. “You find men who are all you knew, and I just feel so lucky. Maybe it’s because I waited and worked through my 20s. It’s a positive song, even though I know it sounds sad. I don’t know what my father went through as a child, and I don’t know why he left and made the decisions he made, but everyone’s human.” 

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As a result, Kelly has been “more present” with her family.

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Kelly even raved about how Blackstock, 43, was an amazing partner. "It's completely magical because there's a little part of me that didn't even know that it existed. I knew that this kind of love existed and that other people found it, but it's such a breathtaking moment," she said.

Despite the ups and downs, Kelly doesn't hold a grudge against her dad. "Even if it's not your father, whoever it is in your life, if someone presents such a cancerous environment and then just keeps hurting you, and even if they're doing it inadvertently and they just don't know better, you should just not have that person in your life," she said. "And it's OK. That's not a hateful situation. You go your own way."

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In 2019, Clarkson revealed the song has changed over time and admitted she got choked up while performing it since her dad had recently died. "So, like, from the moment I wrote it, just being pregnant with my little girl and then you know all the moments that I really did try and make it work with my father and life and just get completely let down to where..." she told Forbes. "You know he passed away months ago. So, that’s why."

She continued, "It’s kind of that I think you know I don’t tell everyone that but, that’s why everybody thinks I’m just a nutcase, but it’s just, it’s evolved. The emotional state of that song for me, just for just many different reasons, it's like a loss on a lot of different levels. So, I think it's always when I get to that last part of the song that it really does get emotional. Yeah, it sucks to sing but I mean eventually it will be fine. It'll be like 'Because of You.'"

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