What You Don't Know About Madonna's Children

Madonna is a mom to six children: daughters Lourdes Leon and Mercy James, twins Estere and Stella Ciccone, and sons David Banda and Rocco Ritchie. While plenty of us might be content with six children, the singer has been open about being open to bringing more kids into her life. While speaking to Today's Harry Smith in 2019, Madonna admitted that having children has taught her a lot about herself and added, "The more kids that you have, the better you get at being a parent." To that end, she added that she'll "never say never" to welcoming a seventh child into her home.

Madonna has been open about her own parenthood journey in other interviews as well. She told Vogue in 2019 that she's often felt there are no female role models for her to emulate, as the women she looked up to never had children. As she said, "Being a single parent of six children, I continue to be creative and be an artist and be politically active, to have a voice, to do all the things that I do. So I mean, there isn't anybody in my position."

One thing is clear: Madonna enjoys celebrating her six kids and sharing them with the world. Here are a few things you might not know about Madonna's children.

Lourdes Leon's father is a fitness trainer turned actor

Madonna was in a relationship with fitness trainer-turned-actor Carlos Leon for three years, from 1994 to 1997. While their relationship didn't work out, Carlos and Madonna welcomed their daughter, Lourdes Leon, in October 1996, per the Los Angeles Times.

Carlos has spoken about his relationships with both Madonna and Lourdes through the years, and has admitted that when it comes to disciplining their daughter, he usually leaves the harder parts up to her mom. In 2011, Carlos told Access Hollywood Live that Madonna is definitely the parent who makes sure rules are followed and that the arrangement really works for them. As he put it, "[Madonna] is the disciplinarian and I'm the one that listens. It works out perfectly. Again, we have this great communication with our daughter. We're on the same track with her."

Carlos has also said that he and Lourdes are close, and his daughter even gives him fashion advice. As he once told Hello! Magazine, "I wore a pair of jeans once, and they weren't as skinny as I usually wear them, and she was like, 'Oh my God, Dad, those pants are so ugly. Please change your pants." Carlos added that he, of course, changed the pants.

Lourdes claimed her mom tried to control her

In October 2021, Lourdes Leon gave a revealing interview in which she claimed Madonna was very controlling while she was growing up. Leon explained that she believes her mother had good intentions, and that her goal was to make sure her children didn't grow up in a bubble of privilege, but that she might have gone too far where Leon was concerned.

Leon told Interview Magazine that her mother had spent her "whole life" controlling her, and that "I needed to be completely independent from her as soon as I graduated high school." However, it wasn't all bad for Leon, and she was also quick to acknowledge that she's gained a lot of wisdom from her mother. Leon added that if her mother has taught her one thing, it's that the only things that really matter are "what you're bringing into the world and what you're going to leave behind."

Lourdes Leon says she doesn't fight with her sisters

Lourdes Leon is the oldest of Madonna's six children, and she's been open over the years about her relationship with her siblings. When asked if it's tough to be the oldest in her family, Leon admitted to Interview Magazine in 2021 that she doesn't have any trouble getting along with her younger sisters, only her younger brothers. As she put it, "A 15- or 20-year-old brother? Come on. Obviously, we're going to fight. But Mercy and I have never, ever fought about anything."

Leon also admitted that she hasn't had the same opportunities to get to know her youngest siblings, twins Stella and Estere, because she no longer lives at home with her mom and siblings. Despite not being around her siblings all the time, it does seem that Leon is close with each of them. As she added in the interview, her brother Rocco takes care of her emotionally. She said, "I try not to cry in front of the twins, but I'm a crybaby so it definitely happens. Rocco is very caring and concerned about my well-being, and that's such a nice feeling" (via Interview Magazine).

Madonna moved her family to Portugal for son David Banda

Madonna decided to move herself and her children all the way to Lisbon, Portugal in 2018 in support of her son David Banda's soccer career. As she told Vogue Italia in 2018, she made the choice to move after her son was approached by representatives of Benfica juniors, the professional soccer club in the country's capital. Madonna explained that the lower-quality soccer in the United States was a factor in the decision. "I've been desperate to get him into the best academies with the best coaches, but the level of football in America is much lower than the rest of the world," she said. "I saw his frustration, and I also felt it was a good time."

However, moving out of the country and seriously pursuing soccer for her son hasn't been easy. Madonna admitted to the publication that the schedule necessary for her son to excel at soccer also made it difficult for the family to have any plans outside of the sport. As she put it, "It's impossible to make plans, and then you feel like you're not being fair to your other kids, or being fair to me" (per Vogue Italia).

Madonna's son, David Banda, is a fashion icon

While David Banda was passionate about soccer as a pre-teen, in more recent years, Madonna's son has gravitated toward fashion — and has even become a bit of an icon in the fashion world. During an August 2022 appearance on "The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon," Madonna happily admitted that not only does her son borrow her clothing from time to time, he usually wears it better than she does.

Madonna explained, "He can put on any outfit and look swag as you know what. It's really irritating. He wears my clothes and looks better in them. He can even wear a dress and look butch."

It turns out that fashion isn't all Banda is interested in. In the same interview, Madonna told Jimmy Fallon that he'll likely have Banda on his show one day, as her son has "everything" he needs to be famous. Fallon agreed with her, telling the singer and the audience, "He's got 'it.' He's got magic. He's funny, he's charming, he's athletic, he's a good-looking dude" (via YouTube).

Her son, Rocco Ritchie, is an artist

In early 2022, numerous outlets and sources revealed that Madonna's son, Rocco Ritchie, has been selling artwork for up to five figures under the pseudonym "Rhed." Considering that Ritchie is only 21 years old (as of 2022) and was selling the artwork anonymously, the sales are impressive. The Guardian noted that Ritchie has been working as a professional artist since at least 2018, hosting shows at the Tanya Baxter Contemporary gallery in West London.

While Ritchie was working under the assumed name, The Guardian has also argued that it's less clear if he was truly creating and selling the work without the assistance of his famous parents and their names, or if he had a leg up in the art world. The publication interviewed several art critics, some of whom were positive about Ritchie's work. However, Jonathan Jones told the outlet that he feared Ritchie had begun producing work for public consumption too early in his career. Jones said, "Painting takes work. It therefore seems a shame that Rhed has been put into the public eye when he's just not, at this point, a real artist."

Rocco Ritchie once worked as a backup dancer for his mom

Madonna's son, Rocco Ritchie, has also spent time working for his mom as a backup dancer. He made his onstage debut during Madonna's "MDNA" tour in 2012 when he was only 11 years old. At the time, Page Six reported that Ritchie had a very successful first night performing onstage with his mom in Tel Aviv, Israel, in front of more than 35,000 fans. He was also described as being energetic and happy to be onstage, smiling while he danced and clapped, "showing off red braces that matched his suspenders."

MTV also reported on Ritchie's big night onstage. The music channel noted that the tween did three costume changes during the show, including "flowing, priest-like robes, a sparkling blue tank and headphones, and an all-black number."

It's unclear whether Ritchie has continued to work as a backup dancer or performer.

Madonna's daughter Mercy James was a gymnast

David Banda isn't Madonna's only athletic child. In 2016, E! News reported that Madonna's daughter Mercy James was quite the accomplished gymnast, and that her mom was incredibly proud of her daughter's athletic prowess. When James successfully competed in a local meet, Madonna shared a photo of her daughter on Instagram and wrote that the young girl won four medals.

James is also an accomplished pianist. In September 2019, Madonna posted a video on Instagram of her daughter playing Mozart's Piano Sonata in C, which James played to celebrate the Jewish New Year Rosh Hashanah. The singer's fans were thrilled with the performance, and one commented, "So very talented!! Mozart is a great one to know for sure!!💕💗❤️" and another added, "Words can't say how magically and beautiful she plays Mozart" (via Instagram).

Mercy James was adopted after a long legal battle

Madonna adopted Mercy James from Malawi in 2000 following a long legal battle. While opening the Mercy James Institute for Pediatric Surgery and Intensive Care in 2017, Madonna opened up about meeting her daughter for the first time and finally winning the legal case that would allow her to bring Mercy home.

Per People, Madonna explained that she first met James at the Kondanani orphanage in Blantyre, Malawi. At the time, James was suffering from malaria, and Madonna said she made a promise to the little girl that she would protect her and help her grow to be a strong, healthy adult. She also shared that the judge in her adoption case initially didn't want to allow her to adopt James because she was a single woman, but that was a challenge that Madonna was more than happy to meet.

Madonna said, " ... if you cannot give me a logical reason for the word 'no,' then I will not accept the word 'no.' I hired a team of lawyers, and I took my case to the Supreme Court, and it was not an easy battle." Ultimately, Madonna adopted James and the rest is history.

Not much is known about Madonna's twins, Stella and Estere Ciccone

Madonna adopted her youngest children, twin daughters Stella and Estere Ciccone, in February 2017 after receiving permission from the courts in Malawi to do so. The girls were 4 years old at the time of their adoption. Madonna previously had to hide the fact of the adoption, after she was accused by some of receiving special treatment that allowed her to adopt children from Malawi when people who live outside the country have been unable to do so. 

Per The Guardian, Madonna adopted the girls with their birth father present in the courtroom. The court also appointed a guardian named Dominic Misomale to travel to the United States with Madonna and her daughters to make sure they were being treated well.

Since their adoption, Madonna has kept a lot of information about her twin daughters private. In August 2021, she shared a series of photos on Instagram to celebrate their birthday, and added the caption, "Happy Birthday Stella and Estere!!!! 🎂🎂🎉🎉🧨🧨💃🏿💃🏿🍕🍕🎁🎁❤️‍🩹❤️‍🩹🔥🔥2 Beautiful Souls..........who bring nothing but Joy to everyone they meet. 🙏🏼. So Grateful to have you both in my life.♥️💙💜💗🖤💛💚💖❣️💕."