Humans have been on this planet for 300,000 years but they still haven’t managed to come to a consensus on the best parenting. Reese Witherspoon served as a reminder of that while discussing the difficulties of raising kids. Her strategy? Honesty is the best policy.
And that’s the case even when it might hurt feelings, according to Witherspoon. “I feel like I’m constantly counteracting pressure from the parents who want to make the lives of their kids golden and magical at all moments! Guess what, kids? You’re going to be disappointed and uncomfortable once in a while,” she said in a recent interview with Fast Company, before giving an example. “I remember Ava crying in bed in third grade — she was on JV basketball and she was the only kid on the team who didn’t score. I said, ‘Aves, maybe you’re bad at basketball.’ She thought that was mean. I said, ‘Mean or true? ‘Cause, guess what? Your mom’s bad at basketball, too.'”
While that might seem tough, it’s a parenting technique that many swear by—including the former first lady Michelle Obama. Last November, she opened up about how she raised Sasha and Malia amid the chaos and scrutiny of White House life, saying, “Sometimes we treat our children too preciously because of the issues they’ve dealt with…. I can’t cherish you to death. We have to raise our children to be the adults that we want them to be, and that starts young. You can’t be so afraid that life will break them that you don’t prepare them for life. Sometimes our fear keeps us from pushing our kids out into the cold cruel world. And then they’re not ready and we wonder why.”
That kind of brutal honesty seems to work for Witherspoon’s marriage as well, as it also led her to give up her own weakness: driving. “I quit driving a year ago,” she recalled. “My husband [Jim Toth] said, ‘Babe, you’re a terrible driver. Get someone to do that for you.’ And it’s great because that’s the time I now spend catching up on phone calls or texts.”
At the same time, though, Witherspoon is quick to offer praise to her kids. While basketball might not be for Ava, who’s now 19 years old, music may be. “She plays a lot of different instruments and has been to lots of different music training camps,” Witherspoon said of Ava last year, per E! News. “She can write a song, she can play any song on the guitar or piano or ukulele.” It’s only a matter of time before they share a mother-daughter duet.
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