Kathie Lee Gifford is extremely proud of her two kids, but you won’t ever hear her use that word to tell them so.
For PEOPLE’s Celeb Moms Get Real, the Today host explained why she didn’t tell her son Cody, now 27 (daughter Cassidy is 24), that she was proud of him when he received straight As during his first semester at USC film school.
“We don’t say ‘proud’ in our family, we never have,” Gifford says. “Cassidy was still home and she said, ‘Mom, why aren’t you saying something? Aren’t you proud of him?’ And I remember saying, ‘Cass, pride comes before the fall. A good book says that.’ ”
“She goes, ‘So Mom, we need a God word for proud,’ ” continues the longtime television personality, 63. “So I thought about it and said, ‘Okay, Cass, let’s make “groud,” meaning “grateful to God for every good thing that’s happening in your life, but totally aware that you could screw it up at any moment because you’re just human.” ‘ ”
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Like any parent likely would, Gifford admits there are certain things she would do differently if she had the chance to raise her kids again — for example, how she conveyed her self image in front of her daughter.
“I would stand in front of a mirror and say negative things about myself, and my daughter would hear it,” she explains. “And she ultimately was the one who said to me, ‘Mom, please don’t say that. It’s not true.’ ”
“And it affected her,” Gifford says. “She’s fine [now], but she didn’t like it. And I thought I was being honest, but I don’t think it was helpful to her. She said, ‘This stuff is powerful, Mom, don’t say it.’ She’s right.”
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Cody and Cassidy have made their home base in Los Angeles, but visit Gifford in N.Y.C. often. As the mother of two — whose husband Frank Gifford died in 2015 — puts it, “They’re both great human beings who realized that their mama needs them now more than they need me.”
“They come home a lot, and it means the world to me,” she adds. “When your children ultimately become your dear friends, you know you’ve made a switch in the relationship.”