RS: What advice do you have for kids that are growing up with either a parent with a debilitating disease like MS or who have parents that have been sent to jail?
J: I think the one thing that would have really helped me growing up would have been open communication.
RS: Speaking of that, have you ever thought of using your newfound knowledge to talk to kids about your own struggles and how they can avoid them? Or talk to groups of children of inmates of parents with MS? Your youth and demeanor make it seem like you would be a natural spokesperson.
J: I am actually looking into doing some motivational speaking. I would have never thought to do it before I went on Starting Over, but I think now I have a lot more knowledge and confidence.
RS: Tell us about that necklace you were forced to wear for so long on the show. How many things were actually pinned on there? Did you feel it was a worthy lesson for you?
J: There were 80 tags on the necklace when I started wearing it! I do think it was a good lesson for me because for the first week, I thought of every excuse to take it off. I was trying to handle the necklace situation the same way that I had handled everything else in my life-make excuses. Looking back, I am really glad Iyanla made me wear it. It definitely taught me a good lesson.
RS: What type of a future relationship do you think you will have with the other women in the sisterhood – Towanda, Kim and Iyanla?
J: I know that my future relationships in the “sisterhood” will continue to grow. I talk to Kim everyday. I truly feel blessed having her in the same state as me.
RS: We loved seeing the relationship you formed with Josie on the show. Have the two of you kept in touch?
J: I’m so busy it’s hard to keep in touch with everyone. I’m sure we’ll run into eachother again soon.
RS: Have you ever figured out what it was about Deborah that set you off and triggered things from your past?
J: I think the one thing that triggered me about Deborah was her resistance to the Starting Over process, and I think in her, I was just seeing my own resistance to the Starting Over process.
RS: How have your familial relationships been since you left the house? Do you and Krista continue to have a better understanding of each other? Have you become closer to your mother now that you can talk to her honestly and maturely about your dad? Have you seen your dad in person at the penitentiary?
J: My relationships with my family members are great! My sister and I are continuing to build our relationship. My mom and I are closer than I ever thought we would be. My mom, sister and I went to visit my father when I got home from the Starting Over house. We are planning on going at least once a month from now on.
RS: I have learned a lot about myself through watching the women on Starting Over. Through your struggles, Jennifer, I have come to a greater appreciation of my relationship with my sister that I recreated a relationship with as a young adult as well. I feel I have been able to forgive some of the things from my past as well, after watching you struggle to forgive them and remove those tags from the necklace. Can you tell us what you have learned from each of your other housemates and life coaches while in Starting Over?
J: All of the housemates and life coaches taught me what it was like to be loved unconditionally. All of them took a part in helping me “know love”. I learned so much from each of my housemates individually, it would be nearly impossible to list it all!
Thank you, Jennifer, for taking the time to answer these questions. We have enjoyed watching you grow in the Starting Over House, and we hope you will always know love from hereon out.