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Melissa Gorga is confident that her children have navigated being on reality television "very, very well."TODAY Illustration / Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Exclusive: Melissa Gorga says her feud with Teresa Giudice ‘trickles down’ to their kids

“I think once you watch the finale you’ll see why,” the “Real Housewives” veteran says.

Melissa Gorga’s very first appearance as a cast member on “Real Housewives of New Jersey” centered around the (ahem) memorable baptism of her third baby, Joey. Today, that baby is 14 and the Gorgas are a staple of the series. chatted with Melissa, 45, about the upcoming season of the show, raising kids in the Garden State and her kids' relationship with their cousins: Gia, Gabriella, Milania and Audriana Giudice.

"There's something about Jersey, I will say, that gives you roots," Melissa says proudly.

Do the Gorga kids like being on TV?

The kids of Melissa and her husband Joe Gorga, who have all been featured on the show, have had different reactions to their family involvement with reality TV.

Antonia, 18, is "the most like me, where she's very witty but no nonsense," Melissa shares. She “gets it. She’s fine with sharing what goes on in her life.”

In fact, cameras followed her to the University of Delaware last fall to film her moving into her college dorm. Antonia happened to join the same sorority as the daughter of a former New Jersey Housewife, Jennifer Fessler, and the pair are throwing a premiere party for the new season of the show.

Gino, 16, is currently using his Communion money to start a clothing line, his mom says. He's an "incredible athlete" and a "hard worker," she says, who is always the first to jump up and help her with the groceries. Melissa shares that Gino doesn’t like the cameras as much as her other kids: “He can’t be bothered.”

Joey, 14, is "the ham of the house, big personality, just so funny." Perhaps because he has literally been surrounded by cameras since he was a newborn, his mom says he "liked it the most" but entering middle school has made him step back a bit.

"None of my children know anything else," Melissa says with a shrug. "I think they're just used to it and they've navigated it very, very well."

What is the best and worst part of being on a reality show?

Melissa doesn't have to think twice about her kids' favorite part of being on reality television.

"The perks," she says instantly. "The free gifts that just pop up to my door. They go through all the packages before I can even get my hands on them."

But fame has a downside, too.

"What's not great about it is the embarrassing moments of growing up," Melissa says. "Each year is documented — how they looked and if they're breaking out. If they had a bad day, it's on TV for millions of people to see."

The kids don't usually cringe at what Melissa says on screen: "They know I'm fun. They know when I have a cocktail, and I'll be funny and say silly things."

On the other hand, they often tell their father what to do and what not to do.

"They'll try to warn him and he still doesn't listen to them," she says with a laugh. "I'll remind him. If we're in a scene, I'm like, 'The kids aren't gonna like that you said that.' I feel like it's more Joe that you have to remind than me because I keep it tight."

How is Melissa raising her kids?

Although she was raised in an Italian household with different rules for boys and girls, Melissa says, "that doesn't fly in my house any longer. Everyone does everything." She says that responsibilities are split evenly, but "if anything, the boys help me more."

Like a typical Italian mom, Melissa does "a lot" for her kids: "I'm a crazy person. I am very hands-on," she says.

Melissa says she is thrilled that Antonia chose to attend the University of Delaware, a two-hour drive from home, rather than Rutgers, which is only 45 minutes away.

"Half of the reason I wanted her to go is just for that independence of learning how to turn the washing machine on and learning how to do the dryer and not shrink your clothes," she says. "It's on her now."

That said, Melissa is feeling all the feelings about Antonia leaving the nest. "I was proud. I was happy. I was sad. I was crying. I was scared," she recalls. "It's a very bittersweet moment to let your baby go to college."

What about the kids' relationship with their Giudice cousins?

Melissa has had a roller coaster relationship with her former sister-in-law, Teresa Giudice.

Has that tension extended to the Gorga kids and their Giudice cousins?

"It unfortunately trickles down. I think once you watch the finale you'll see why," Melissa says. "It's sad and you know, I think everyone's moved on pretty much but (the kids) keep in touch. They will text each other 'Happy birthday' and things like that, which is nice."


“The Real Housewives of New Jersey” premieres Sunday, May 5th at 8pm ET/PT on Bravo.