Brandy with daughter Sy'rai

*You wouldn’t even know that Brandy has a child based on her VH1 reality show “Brandy & Ray J: A Family Business” — and that’s exactly how the singer-actress wants it.

Sy’rai Iman, 8, does not appear on screen in the series because her parents believe it could hurt her in the long run.

“Her father [Robert Smith] and I felt it was best for her to have as much of a normal life as possible,” Norwood, 31, reveals to PARADE. “Of course, you’ve seen her on one episode on ‘For the Love of Ray J,’ but it wasn’t every day. You didn’t see her going to school, me combing her hair, or any aspect of our private, intimate moments, which sort of sucks because our relationship is so beautiful.”

Norwood says that she “would love for people to see how I’m doing it, because I think I could be a good example of a young, single mom.”

The secret to her success? “Raising [Sy’rai] in a different way than how I was raised,” Brandy reveals. “A lot of mothers feel like they’re the mom first, with that authority,” she continues. “But for me, I’m a friend first. I believe that just being there for my daughter as a friend more than ‘I’m in charge…’ causes her to be more open with me as a person.”

“If I have an authoritative wall up, she’s going to rebel and not come to me and I don’t want that,” Brandy says, but also acknowledges that there are “of course” times that she needs to assume the role of disciplinarian. Fortunately, they appear to be few and far between.

“I know I’ll probably get flack for being a friend first, but it really works,” she insists. “[Sy’rai]‘s really honest with me. I’m just teaching her how to trust herself. I tell her all the time that my life is not your life — you have your own life.”

“At the end of the day we’re going to be friends,” Norwood predicts. “When she grows up, it’ll be about that friendship that we’ll have. She’ll come to me for any problems that she has.”