The Real Housewives of New Jersey star was just 12 years old when her parents' legal troubles began. Indicted on federal fraud charges in 2013, Joe and Teresa — who also share daughters Gabriella, 19, Milania, 17, and Audriana, 14 — took turns serving time in prison.
Teresa, 51, served an 11-month jail sentence before Joe, also 51, served 41 months and was later deported to his native Italy in 2019, even though he lived his whole life in the United States. He currently lives in The Bahamas.
Now 22, Gia can look back on that challenging time in her family's life with a renewed sense of gratitude.
"Just seeing what my mom has done throughout the years that my father was away. And also once you are older, you realize the value of money. The value of raising a family. The value of taking care of children," she explains. "And it's not cheap. It's not easy. So I value what my father did from when we were younger up until he got indicted, unfortunately."
"For my mom standing strong all those years that my father was away and then getting deported, my mother never really made us worry," Gia continues. "We never really thought that anything was going to happen. I don't know how she did it, but she kept our family afloat. And I think that's something that I praise my mother for every day because she kept our family standing strong, and my father obviously did as well."
Gia — who is currently working a day job in marketing, pursuing a career in influencing and studying for her LSATs after graduating with a criminal justice degree — believes her parents' outlook on the legal woes helped her and her younger sisters grow into strong women.
"I appreciate the both of them so much for raising us to be the women that we are today, and for always trying to protect us of anything that was going on because I'm sure it was not easy," she explains. "My mom probably stressed every single day, and I'm sure she still stresses today. I don't think you ever go a day without stressing about it, but I just could only imagine the fear she probably had while my father was away and doing it alone."
"It just was definitely one of the hardest things," she continues. "She always tried to protect us from the negative, and I really appreciate that."
Though her parents were still married at the time, they've since split and have been divorced since 2020 (but remain on good terms). Gia says her family's complicated journey over the years has made her realize how difficult life can be for single parents.
"I give single parents the most amount of credit," she says. "My dad did it for a little while, while my mom was away, and it's rough. And I think for men, I think they get into a complete shock. My dad didn't know what to do without my mom."
"It's weird how everything happens," she notes. "My dad did have that time to do it alone ... so now when we go to The Bahamas, he does it on his own again. So as weird as it may seem, and as bittersweet as it is, everything kind of does happen for a reason. But listen, we're all standing strong. We all did it and it's good."
Thinking back on her own personal growth while her parents were in prison, and the way she had to step into a parental role for her younger siblings, Gia says the biggest thing she learned at that time was the importance of using her voice.
"I learned to speak up for myself and speak up for my family because there's just been scenarios where things weren't true. And I took on that role to stick up for my family ... and stand our ground," she says.
Gia is also impressed by the way her younger sisters handled the legal problems that rocked their family as children.
"Especially for Audriana, she was so young when we went through everything, and same with Milania and Gabriella, but just how they have honestly ... their life is beautiful still," she says. "They haven't let what happened to us affect them in a negative way."
"Some kids, this could've hit them a lot harder and it could've brought us down a bad path," she points out. "A lot of things could've happened to us mentally. And I'm just so happy that each one of us have had that mental strength to keep going and push.... They're all doing so amazing, and our family truly has been bonded more through the hard times. We're there for each other no matter what."
"Basically, I think what we went through made us so much stronger, as much as that sounds cliché, but the hard times really did make us so much stronger and closer," she adds.
Because of her fierce loyalty towards her family, it's no surprise that Gia "would love" to see a Giudice family spinoff on Bravo one day, showing their lives after the legal troubles and how they've blended families with her stepfather Luis "Louie" Ruelas.
"I think it would be so much fun, especially if we could incorporate my dad too, and us going to The Bahamas and just showing how we really are such a blended family," she shares. "My dad and Louie talk frequently ... we are seriously such a blended family, and we really all do respect each other so much. And I know the fans, they always say we miss Juicy Joe. So I feel like it would be so fun to see us all together. I think that would really just be something different."
"I think the Bravo screen would break, 100 percent ... I think it would break the internet literally," she adds. "And I think also people would just be so interested, 'Oh, how do Joe and Teresa cope and how do they co-parent together?' Meanwhile, it's so easy. They are the same. They bust each other's chops the same. They were friends before, so it's just friends [now], but not together."