By Ruthie Fierberg
September 05, 2014
5 Lessons of Motherhood We Learned From Joan Rivers 34895

The Queen of Comedy. The Queen of Mean. Joan Rivers certainly earned a few titles in her 81 years before she passed away yesterday after suffering complications from an outpatient procedure in New York City. Despite starring on her own reality show with her daughter "Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best?", Queen of Motherhood is not a title usually equated with the woman who uttered more four-letter words in a day than many do in a year. Still, there are (at least) five valuable lessons we can learn from Joan the woman, the comedienne, the mother.

Number 1: How to be honest

Joan was infamous for her brutal and sometimes scathing honesty on E!'s Fashion Police. While I don't advocate mocking your friends (or even celebrities), I do advocate honesty and open communication. Honesty will solve problems in your life and it's a value worth promoting in your kids. While lying is a developmental marker for children, it's also important to teach them the currency of the truth.

Number 2: How to Make the Best of Any Situation

As a comedian, it was Joan's job to bring light to situations ranging from the annoying to the tragic. As the brash broad once said, "Comedy is to make everybody laugh at everybody and deal with things." Remember to look on the bright side whenever you can.

Number 3: How to Persevere

You may not know (because I didn't) that Joan Rivers hosted "The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers" on Fox in 1986. Yup. A woman in late night! But the show flopped. (It was worse than Conan's moment.) Yet, she is still regarded as one of the comic geniuses of our time. She worked hard through professional downfalls and personal struggles. Joan always looked forward.

Number 4: How to Love Yourself

At 81 years old, Joan Rivers did NOT look 81 years old. And she wasn't ashamed of her plastic surgery one iota. But the difference between Joan's plastic surgery was that she wasn't using it to hide. Her appearance was a gift to herself. She was often indulgent and she was unapologetic for how she looked and how she spoke. Not only was she loved in spite of this, she was love because of this.

Number 5: How to Heal a Relationship

Joan said that Melissa blamed her for her father's suicide, creating a boiling tension between the mother-daughter pair. But, Joan made a point to always be in touch with Melissa and they even entered psychotherapy together at the time. Joan fought hard (and so did Melissa) to save their relationship. And sure enough, the two came out of the woods and were as thick as thieves until the end.

Even as a career-woman, Joan was a hands-on parent. What's your parenting style?

Photograph: S Buckley/