"I want them to be good human beings who can make changes in the world," Yolanda Hadid tells PEOPLE about her three grown children
When it comes to raising her supermodel daughters, Yolanda Hadid doesn’t mess around.
“I ask my kids every day, ‘God has provided you with this platform, what are you going to do with it?’ ” says the mom of Gigi, 22 and Bella, 21 (son Anwar, who is also a model, is 18). “It’s not about posting pretty selfies. I want them to be good human beings who can make changes in the world.”
Now, the former star of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, 54, is taking her wisdom and experience — she’s a former model herself — back to television with Lifetime’s Making a Model with Yolanda Hadid.
“The show is about a love for a dream,” says Hadid of the show, which focuses on aspiring models and also their relationships with their mothers. “And it’s about changing the relationship between mothers and daughters. In today’s world we are starting to disconnect from the family unit.”
And Hadid says that, partly thanks to her strict Dutch upbringing — “My mom can still stare at me in a way that gets me to straighten up!” — she was resolute in her efforts to raise her children in the healthiest way possible, including not letting them model full-time until they turned 18.
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“I’m very strict about that,” says Hadid, who raised her three children in Santa Barbara after splitting from their father, developer Mohamed Hadid in 2000. “I remember Gigi being 16 and saying, ‘This is not fair!’ But now she hugs me and says, ‘Thank you for giving me those two extra years to grow up, be in my flip flops and play basketball.’ Modeling is a tough profession. It’s not for the weak.”
Now that they are legitimate superstars, Hadid says she’s focused on keeping Gigi and Bella grounded, despite the wealth and fame.
“My biggest job is how am I going to keep them emotionally stable,” she says. “We have a farm outside of New York. We ride horses, we have a vegetable garden. I bring them to the farm and remind them of who they are and how they were raised. It’s about going back to our roots and recharging.”
Hadid also won’t stand for diva-like behavior.
“Respect is number one,” she says. “When my girls started, I sat them down and I said, ‘Listen, there are a million girls out there who are as beautiful as you and deserve success as much as you do. You have to be the hardest working girl and show people you care about everybody.’ ”
Continues Hadid: “It’s a superficial business. At the end of the day, looks will come and go. And what makes me proud of my children, more so than even their success, is that they are polite and respectful.”
Making a Model with Yolanda Hadid airs Thursdays (10 p.m. ET) on Lifetime.