Iyanla Helps R&B Singer Syleena Johnson Confront Abusive Mother

Dorothy Rowley | 7/29/2013, 2:21 p.m.
Iyanla Vanzant (right) talks with Brenda Thompson, mother of R&B recording artist and reality TV star Syleena Johnson, on the July 27 episode of "Iyanla: Fix My Life." (Courtesy of oprah.com)

The mother of R&B singer Syleena Johnson said in an interview with Iyanla Vanzant that she called her three daughters names because that's what she understood growing up.

"Where I came from, that's just how you talked," said Brenda Thompson, who in the late 1980s became the first female police commissioner of Harvey, Ill.

Thompson also told Vanzant in the July 27 airing of the Oprah Winfrey Network's "Iyanla: Fix My Life” that climbing the ranks carried over to her parenting.

Although Thompson recalls a closeness among her children, they saw things differently, with Johnson saying that the siblings still struggle with their mother's way of child-rearing.

"The big thing that the three of them all have a clear recollection of is their mother calling them b-----s and h--s," Vanzant told Thompson. "One even shared with me that they were called the c-word by you."

Thompson didn’t deny the accusations. She explained however, that the name-calling stemmed from her own childhood experiences.

“I have always — from school, when I was little — been bullied. By everybody," Thompson said. "To my defense, I cursed people out."

Vanzant coolly responded that Thompson needed to come up with a better excuse for berating her children.

"In all my fiber of my being as a mother, I cannot imagine looking my baby girls in the face and calling them b-----s," Vanzant said. "And I come up out of Brooklyn."