Lady Gaga may have been "born this way," but on the newest episode of the TODAY digital series "Through Mom's Eyes," the star's mother, Cynthia Germanotta, opened up to Sheinelle Jones about the "special sauce" that allowed both of her daughters to follow their passions.
"I have two daughters, Stefani (Gaga) and Natali," said Germanotta. "And they are six years apart. They were both incredibly active, yet both very passionate about things from a very early age. And that was kind of a little special sauce for us. We saw that and started nurturing it when they were young."
Germanotta told TODAY co-host Shenielle Jones that in the family's household, it was important to strike a balance between "the pragmatic side of parenting" and "facilitating what they wanted to do."
Gaga has been open about the bullying she endured in school. Germanotta said that at the time, she only knew "some" of the details.
"In middle school, because she was unique, she started experiencing a lot of struggles," Germanotta said. "You know, feeling isolated from events. Humiliated. Taunted. And she would start to question herself and become doubtful of her own abilities. And that's when she developed depression. We tried our best as parents to help her, but didn't know everything. So I felt where I made mistakes was I didn't really know the warning signs to look for."
In 2012, Gaga and Germanotta established the Born This Way Foundation, which works to "support the mental and emotional wellness of young people" and provide programming and resources for teens.
Germanotta said that when the foundation was initially established, her daughter saw it as a way to "create a kinder and braver world."
"As her career took off and we were travelling the world and talking to young people, we realized how many other young people had similar experiences," Germanotta said. "And her message was really resonating with them, because she would talk about her experiences during her performance, which, as a mom, I didn't quite understand. I would say 'Why are you being so private in public?' because those are very personal things... But she shared it, and what I came to realize is it was very healing for her and also her fans."
Germanotta said that the foundation also provides resources for parents, such as how to look for the signs of bullying, which she felt she had missed herself as Gaga grew up.
"I knew some of it, but there's some of it that she didn't share, because she was either embarrassed or afraid to tell me," Germanotta said. "And that was a little hard to hear, you know, as a mom."
Now, though, Gaga is an international superstar with dozens of accolades to her name. Germanotta said that even as a child, her daughter — who she still calls Steffi — had an ear for music and a love for performing.
"She started playing piano by age at the age of four," Germanotta explained. "And that's when we saw something special in her."
Now that both her daughters are grown, Germanotta said that she can take a breath and celebrate that she has "two incredibly wonderful girls with great hearts."
"It's rewarding all the way through for me," she said. "It's rewarding all the way through. The thing that I'm most proud of is that I have two girls that have incredible hearts and they're incredibly kind. That, to me, is the most rewarding part."