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Why actor Danielle Brooks is surprised by her own parenting style

The "Orange Is the New Black" alum welcomed her daughter, Freeya, in Nov. 2019.
/ Source: TODAY

Actor Danielle Brooks always imagined she’d be a strict parent. Then the “Orange Is the New Black” alum became a mom.

“I’m way more lenient then I thought I’d be,” Brooks, who shares 16-month-old daughter Freeya with her fiancé, Dennis Gelin, told Parents magazine.

That became very clear to Brooks this past winter when her mother was visiting.

“My mom had Christmas cards on the table, and I was like, ‘Take them off so Freeya doesn’t get to them,’” Brooks, 31, recalled. “Grandma’s like, ‘No, leave them and teach her not to touch them.’ I’m like, ‘Adjust for the child,’ and old-school is, ‘No, the child needs to adjust to you.’”

But as Brooks was quick to note, “Her name’s Freeya. Part of me is like, ‘Just let that baby be free.”

Danielle Brooks and her daughter, Freeya, were featured on the cover of Parents magazine.Amanda Pratt / PARENTS

Brooks and Gelin welcomed Freeya in Nov. 2019. While speaking with Parents, Brooks revealed that racism made her hesitant to expand her family.

“It was hard to have a child in the first place, because I knew that my child was going to be brought up in this very hateful, racist, sexist world,” Brooks explained.

The death of George Floyd only solidified those fears.

“At first when everything happened — the obvious pandemic, but then there’s a racial pandemic as well — I felt defeated. I felt like, ‘How is this child going to survive in this world?’ Which is the fear of a lot of parents of color,” Brooks shared.

But today, Brooks has a different outlook.

“Now I feel hopeful because I know how I’m going to raise my child. There’s one better human being in this world,” she said. “It’s work on the parents’ part to show our kids love. I pray I raise my daughter to be street smart and be able to tackle the world and not be defeated by it. Motherhood has been good. It feels good on me.”