Jimmy Osmond: My Family Values
December 16, 2011
The member of my family I cling to these days is my brother Jay. He was always there for me, he's got a wonderful heart, the kind of guy you could call up if you wanted to celebrate something or talk about the worse day of your life. The rest are rubbish [he laughs]. He's been going through a difficult time, he's divorced and so he's living with us.
My mum and dad were opposites. My dad was an army sergeant, very driven. He had a hard life, kicked out of home when he was 12. My mother played saxophone in a dance band and was a secretary in the army. My dad was very tough but he worshipped my mother. Always treated her with respect. My brothers are very respectful to their wives. He taught us how to work. Even when we celebrated or had success he wouldn't let us celebrate it because he was worried how we'd turn out.
Mum and Dad had a way of making each of us feel we were their favourite. I don't know how they did it. Nine of us. There wasn't a night that they didn't pray out loud and name each of their kids, and they loved each of us equally. I would say to my dad, "Oh, you like Donny or Marie more than me," and he'd say, "I'm only as strong as my weakest child." Now that I have kids I get it because you want to celebrate one kid doing well, but if the other kid's struggling, your attention does go to that one. Sometimes it's really difficult being involved with your siblings in business. We have every right never to speak to each other again, like most entertainment families, but we've been able to get past it and focus on family unity and solidarity.
My two older brothers, Virl and Tom, were both born deaf. How hard do you think it was for Virl and Tom being left behind when we went on stage? But they are very talented guys, and my parents found a way of including them in our business. They did printing and merchandise, publishing and we always made them feel part of it. They're our heroes because it's not about what you attain in life, it's how you handle what you're dealt – and they handled it just beautifully.
I have four children. I purchased a lot of weapons when Sophia, who's now 17, became a teenager! But she's got a really sensible head on her shoulders. She's just a joy, such a good kid. I went to her the other day and said, "Quit being such a good kid and go do something wrong!" Zachary is 14, my mini-me. Wyatt is almost 13, very creative, a red-head like grandma Osmond was. Bella is nine. She's a sweet little thing and likes snuggling. She's suffered from some speech delay and some massive seizures – she's had some health issues.
I hope I'm a loving dad. I can be a disciplinarian, but I'm usually the soft touch and my wife, Michelle, is very good at demanding certain things out of my kids – like respect. We always back each other up, which I think is critical. I will legitimately apologise to the kids if I get it wrong. I think it's important that they see that Daddy's not always perfect, but I'm trying my best. I think they know that I'm a work in progress as much as they are.
Jay and I are the under-achievers in terms of number of kids we have. Jay has three boys. We don't all give each other Christmas presents because we we have fiftysomething children between us and sixtysomething grandkids.
• The Osmonds final UK tour, Up Close & Personal, starts in March 2012. More information at osmond.com