If there’s anyone who’s well-equipped to offer advice about becoming a model, it’s Heidi Klum, who has graced runways and ad campaigns for 30 years. But now that her 17-year-old daughter, Leni Klum, is following in her footsteps, the model mom is sharing some relatable parental fears about letting go.
In an exclusive interview with SheKnows, Heidi describes her concerns about motherhood — she shares Henry, 16, Johan, 15, Lou, 12, and Leni, from her previous marriage to musician Seal. “With all your kids, the biggest fear is, that people will put too many rocks in their way, and they won’t know how to kick those rocks to the side or jump over them, or that people are mean to them,” she says. “You want your kids to be happy. You don’t want them to be bullied or talked bad to. So that’s really the only fear ever, is that your kids are not happy in the place that they’re in.”
As for her eldest, who has appeared in the pages of ELLE, on the cover of Vogue Germany with her mom, and walked the runway for Dolce & Gabbana, Heidi shares, “So far, so good. It has not gotten to her head just yet — she’s still, you know, a kid and she’s going to school. Right now, she did all of her college requirements, because she wants to go to college next. So I feel like she has a good head on her shoulders.”
Heidi, who is married to Tokio Hotel guitarist Tom Kaulitz, also admits to being a “helicopter parent” with all her children, adding, “The hardest thing is also to kind of let them go and do their thing without always being the helicopter parent hovering always. You know, I’ve hovered for a very long time. And I feel like now is the time to let go a little bit. I feel like she has a good head on her shoulders and she’s getting all the things she wants to do.”
In fact, the beauty icon believes that Leni is more prepared to handle the spotlight than she was as a young model. “She was born into this industry — not like me, for example,” says Heidi. “It was new to me when people were photographing me — the paparazzi, for example, when you see yourself on a stand. For her, she’s been photographed since she was hanging around my neck on a BabyBjörn, you know? So it’s a different kind of upbringing for her in this limelight. So for her, she sees the camera as her friend, and not her enemy. So she’s a little bit looser and more fun and natural around it than maybe I was in the beginning.”
Naturally, Heidi can’t help but gush over Leni’s impressive achievements. “She’s been doing really well. I’m very proud of her. I mean obviously you’re proud of the beautiful pictures and the things she does, you know? But I’m more proud of how she handles herself and how she handles juggling school and work and that she’s kind to people. So far I don’t really have to step in. Obviously, because she’s still underage, I’m there. But other than that, I don’t have to tell her what to say and what to do, like she has her own thing, you know?”
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity and length.
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