Mariah Carey's relationship with her mother is ''really difficult''.

The 'Hero' hitmaker claimed her upbringing with her mom - who she calls by her first name, Patricia, was rife with ''neglect on several levels'' and as a result she's always done her best to make the lives of her nine-year-old twins, Moroccan and Monroe, ''amazing''.

Mariah - who has her kids with ex-husband Nick Cannon - said: ''I think it's really a tough job to be a mother ... so I literally try to make my kids' lives amazing.

''But we all make mistakes. I would say the neglect was on several levels. I always felt dirty, I didn't feel put together, and [she was] leaving me with people who were not safe.

''I'll always take care of her. There's been a huge role reversal in our relationship since the beginning, since I first started [singing] I've been the go-to, that matriarch person, even as the youngest child in the family...

''That's a lot of pressure because also with that, with the expectations come resentment as well, or envy. It's really a tough place to be.''

The 50-year-old singer recalled how her she found herself in the back of a police car on the way to a mental health facility following a confrontation with her mother after she had sought solace with her while feeling physically and emotionally exhausted in 2001.

Appearing on 'The Oprah Conversation', she recalled: ''Bottom line is, there was a code-switching that happened, and a power shift that was immediate. It was immediate and she was in charge.

''And rather than say, 'You know what, we're OK, I am here, taking care of my daughter, she's tired, somebody called the cops by mistake, whatever,' it was like, 'No, because you defied me, this is what is going to happen.'

''The backseat of the police car, it's a vivid memory I will never forget.

''I have never spoken about it. But at that moment, that seemed like a better alternative than where I was.''

Mariah's parents split when she was three and she admitted she never felt close to her father because he ''felt like an outsider'' in their family, but she didn't hold a grudge towards him as a result.

She said: ''That was sort of maybe where we didn't connect early on. I didn't understand the strictness. It was an almost military approach to life.

''We talked about his experience in the military, which is intense, what he revealed to me. We had a lot of discussions when he was on his deathbed and that was a time when I felt I just wanted to let him know that anything we ever went through, and our disconnect, like, it was never his fault and that was an important part for me.''