Robyn Rihanna Fenty is one of the most successful musicians of all time. The Barbadian star made her breakthrough when she released the album Music of the Sun as a 17-year-old. She signed with Def Jam Recordings in 2005 after the label’s CEO Jay-Z heard her hit song Pon de Replay.
Since then Rihanna has sold over 250 million records, and she has won nine Grammy Awards. She is also an entrepreneur and a fashion industry mogul. Rihanna’s parents have played a significant role in shaping the star that we know today. This piece will look at Rihanna’s relationship with her mother and her controversial father.
Rihanna’s mother endured years of abuse from Rihanna’s father
Rihanna was born on 20th February 1988 in Saint Michael, Barbados, to Monica Braithwaite and Ronald Fenty. Monica worked as an accountant while Ronald worked as a warehouse supervisor. Rihanna’s family wasn’t the richest, but it also wasn’t the poorest. Rihanna’s parents had a stable income, but domestic abuse was a recurrent theme in the family’s three-bedroomed bungalow in Bridgetown.
Ronald was an abusive husband, and sometimes, Rihanna had to prevent him from hitting Monica. At times, Rihanna bore the brunt of her father’s rage – one time, he slapped her so hard for wanting to remain at the beach for an extra ten minutes that one could see his handprint on her face – but they enjoyed a cordial relationship.
He taught her how to swim, how to ride a bike, and she helped him sell clothes from the back of his car. However, she still felt for her mom, who failed to report the abuse. Rihanna told ABC News:
“[My parents] had a very abusive relationship. My dad was an abuser. [He hit her] on numerous accounts. I don’t want to say normal, but it wasn’t a surprise when it happened. She never went to the hospital… Domestic violence is not something that people want anybody to know.”
Rihanna describes her mom as one of the strongest people she knows. Her cosmetics line, Fenty Beauty, is a love letter to her strong mom. On 5th April 2019, Rihanna shared a throwback photo of her mom on Instagram and added:
“Happy Birthday to my sweet beautiful mother. Thanks for teaching me that strength, love, forgiveness, sacrifice, hard work, and helping others in whatever way you can… is what true beauty looks like. Love you and I appreciate you! Thank You God for choosing this wonderful being to be my mom!”
Ronald’s addiction to drugs and alcohol led to his divorce from Rihanna’s mom
Ronald was a troubled man in his younger days, and he used half of his salary on alcohol and crack cocaine. He also used money on drugs even when there wasn’t enough for necessities such as food. Ronald decided to change after Rihanna caught him smoking cocaine. He told The Sun:
“She was just a little kid and it made her look at me, and other things, differently. Around the same time we were walking down the streets and there was a guy sleeping on the sidewalk. Her mother said to Robyn, ‘Your dad is going to end up like that.’ I did not want my children to see me sleeping on the sidewalk so I started making the changes.”
Ronald opted to leave his family behind, and it meant that Monica had to work harder to provide for her children. Rihanna told The Guardian that she helped her mom by taking care of her younger brother Rajad. She said:
“My mom was a single mom, so she worked a lot. She was really never home – I mean, she was home, but it would be after work, late at night, so I would take care of him. He was my best friend. He thought I was his mom.”
Ronald went on to have other relationships, and he has two daughters and one son with different women.
Rihanna has a complicated relationship with her father
As Rihanna grew older, she learnt how to hate Ronald, but one of her friends at school advised her that it wasn’t healthy to hate her father. By the time she became a global sensation, Rihanna and her father were on speaking terms. However, they stopped talking for two years after Rihanna sent him home for being drunk during her North America tour in 2008.
Rihanna stated that Ronald stopped talking to her after the incident while Ronald blamed Rihanna for freezing her out. Their relationship deteriorated further after Ronald made false comments to the press following Chris Brown’s assault on his daughter. Rihanna told Vogue in 2011:
“It really makes me question what I have become to my father. Like what do I even mean to him? … My dad went to the press and just told them a bunch of lies. Because he hadn’t talked to me after… the whole… He never called to find out how I was doing, if I was alive, nothing. He just never called. He went straight to the press and got a check. And now he does it again.”
Rihanna and Ronald reconciled in 2013, and she put Ronald through rehab to save him from jail. In 2014, Ronald was thrown out of her Diamond Ball for embarrassing Rihanna when drunk. In June 2016, Rihanna purchased a mansion in Barbados for her father, and in late 2018, the pair attended her maternal grandfather’s 90th birthday party together.
In January 2019, Rihanna took her dad to court for using her name to close his business deals. In July 2019, it was announced that Rihanna and her dad’s case would be presented before a jury in June 2020. The suit will determine who has the legal right to use the word Fenty. Rihanna trademarked the name after she started using it for her businesses, while Ronald founded Fenty Entertainment in 2017.
Ronald recently recovered from COVID-19 with the help of his daughter
In an April 2020 interview with The Sun, Ronald confirmed that he had contracted and recovered from the coronavirus. He revealed that Rihanna had sent him a ventilator, but he didn’t need to use it. He told the outlet:
“My daughter Robyn was checking in on me every day. I thought I was going to die to be honest. I have to say. I love you so much, Robyn. She did so much for me. I appreciate everything she has done… I got fever up inside of my nose. I had a fever across my lips. It was just a lot of fever. I feared the worst. I thought I was going to die, honestly.”