MELANIE Sykes has admitted that her son's autism diagnosis "fuelled" her marriage breakdown.
The 51-year-old star was left heartbroken when son Valentino, now 17, was diagnosed with the lifelong developmental disability at the age of three, and split from Daniel Caltagirone a year later.
Opening up, Melanie has now revealed that she didn't think she could help her son if she'd remained in the marriage.
The TV favourite explained: "That boy is the light of my life. When he was diagnosed he changed my life.
"I couldn’t be in a marriage that I wasn’t happy in, in order to help him. I had to sort myself out and he helped me get out of the situation that I was in – he was definitely the fuel for the move to do that.
"When you are unhappy you can’t function as a parent."
Melanie also shares 19-year-old Roman with ex Daniel, and added to The Hot Mess Mums Club podcast: "When you are unhappy you are not displaying what a woman should be dealing with.
"With two boys, particularly, I was very mindful of what they were observing of me as a woman and what they would take into their adult lives when they were dealing with women – whether it be romantically or not because at that time I didn’t know what sexual persuasion they were going to be.
“It was just what women are and what women are capable of. I am their main woman so everything I do, I want them to see me as someone to look up to and to respect.
“I think that is my duty as a mother, to boys particularly.”
Melanie and actor Daniel tied the knot in 2001 and split in 2009, saying at the time that they had "grown apart".
They successfully co-parent the two boys, and have even put on a united front by appearing on This Morning together to talk about Valentino.
Speaking about her son's diagnosis in the past, Melanie admitted to breaking down and wanting to "run away from the house" due to the shock – but was quickly able to accept the news.
Melanie married ex Jack in 2013, who was 15 years her junior, and is currently loved up with 24-year-old gondolier Riccardo Simionato, who she met in Venice.
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