Kelly Ripa Says Choices Are Key with Her 'Mini-Me'

09/24/2008 at 01:00 PM ET

In a recent interview with WebMD magazine, actress Kelly Ripa reveals that her two sons with husband Mark ConsuelosMichael Joseph, 11, and Joaquin Antonio, 5 ½ — are "forever happy" to see their mom. The same can’t always be said for the couple’s 7-year-old daughter Lola Grace, however! Noting that "girls do love to press your buttons," Kelly’s own mom Esther Ripa feels that her daughter and granddaughter butt heads because they are "exactly the same." While Kelly admits that Lola "challenges" her, she’s learned that by simply offering her daughter a choice, the friction can be lessened.

"With Lola, everything is up for debate. Everything is a conversation. First thing in the morning, it’s a major discussion about what she’s going to wear. I’ve learned to give her limited options: ‘You can wear this or this.’ That’s what works best."

The 37-year-old Live With Regis and Kelly co-host says she’s even had to set ground rules with Lola for when it’s permissible to disagree with mom, and when it’s time to just do as she’s told. "This is New York," Kelly notes. "There could be a terrorist attack. And I can just see me having to debate with Lola about why we have to leave right this minute. I’ve literally had to say to her: ‘Honey, if there’s an emergency, you don’t have the liberty to argue with Mommy, OK?"

The boys — despite being described by their mom as "snuggly and cuddly" — have had their moments as well. Michael screamed that he was being kidnapped once when Kelly tried to remove him from a toy store. "He took everything I’d taught him about what to do in that kind of situation and used it against me." Joaquin decided one night to hide under his bed long after his parents thought he’d already gone to sleep; the family searched their New York apartment frantically and were about to call 911 when he finally turned up. "I was shaking, I was so relieved — and so angry, too!" Kelly recalls.

Click ‘more’ to read about Kelly’s parenting philosophy and why she feels kids are "consistency junkies."

When she’s being tested and needs some advice, Kelly says she looks no further than Esther and Mark’s mom. Among the lessons she’s learned? People who engage in power struggles with their children need to remember "to be a parent and not a friend," and "doing the easy thing in the short term makes it harder in the long run," Kelly says.

"Giving in when you want to say ‘no’ quiets things down momentarily, but you’ll just have more of the same — and then some — down the road."

Calling children "consistency junkies" who need "schedules and parameters," Kelly explains that in any given situation she tries to let the kids know "exactly what to expect." As a result, Lola, Michael and Joaquin understand that their parents "love them no matter what — and they also know that ‘no’ means no," she says. Despite having the "best pregnancies," Kelly says she wound up with the "worst deliveries" — C-sections for each child, even though she had preferred a natural birth. The shock of unplanned surgery didn’t compare to the shock of life with a newborn, however.

"With Michael, we knew nothing. Around the time he was born we’d just bought one of those widescreen TVs, which were new and all the rage then. And we walked out of the store with, like, a 6,000-page manual on how to work the thing. The hospital, on the other hand, gave us a one-page leaflet that said stuff like, ‘When the baby is hungry, feed him. When he’s tired, put him to bed.’ Incredible, right?"

Eleven years later, and she appears to have the hang of things.  Despite her busy career, Kelly jokes that she runs her family like a cruise ship — "shuffleboard at 5!" — and enjoys keeping Mark and the kids informed of "what’s happening, all the time." She also likens her house to the Centers for Disease Control!  "I’m all about containment," she says. "We keep things really clean, really neat." Her approach is rooted in self-preservation; during Michael’s first year of school, Kelly suffered from pinkeye six times. "Now, it’s prevention, prevention, prevention: We do supplements, probiotics, you name it," Kelly says. Despite the hard work of motherhood, Kelly says the payoff is huge.

"Sometimes Mark and I see these little faces around the breakfast table and we just look at each other and think, ‘How did we ever make something so beautiful?’ Our kids — well, they’re our hearts."

Source: WebMD

FILED UNDER: News , Parenting

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JM on

I love Kelly she’s so down to earth.

Well Joaquin’s little story reminded me of a time that my brother and I decided to play a “trick” on my mom. I was about 7 and my brother was about 10. My mom was running into the store really quickly to get something and my brother and I asked to wait in the car. Back then it wasn’t unusual to do that sort of thing unlike today. Anyways, my brother thought it would be funny to hide in the back of our station wagon so that when my mom came she wouldn’t know where we were! I was just thinking it was a fun hide and go seek kind of game. When my mom got to the car and didn’t see us in our seats she freaked out and ran back into the store to get help! My brother and I laughed hysterically as we saw my mom running into the store. We decided to hop back in our seats so that when she came out we could pretend like we were there the entire time. When she and a few store clerks finally came back out my mom had this look I’ll never forget…a look of relief with a “I’m gonna kill the two of you as soon as I get in that car!”
Needless to say we never decided to play a “trick” like that on mom ever again!!!

JM on

I also remember my mom telling me my brother loved to sleep under his bed as a toddler. But one night when they checked he wasn’t there. They searched frantically throughout the house until my mom decided to check just one more time. There he was curled up in the corner under the bed. She couldn’t see him cause his Pajama’s were the exact color of his carpet!! Now my brother has 3 son’s and I would not be surprised if any of them pull the same stunts their daddy did 🙂

Skipsie on

These are my absolute favourite family.
I would love to have parents like Kelly and Mark!
I love Kelly’s stories about her kids on the show, especially the one where she claims Lola has the early stages of PMS- Lol!


Lisa on

Wow. Sounds like she is going to have a “handful” when Lola is a teenager.

Mia on

I love Kelly Ripa!

She’s in tie for my favorite celebrity couple of her/Mark with Brad/Angelina.

Her battling with Lola , reminds me a lot of me/my mom and various other friends/family member daughter/mother relationships.

Beverley on

When my son was in 1st grade, he used to fight with me almost every day about what he wanted to wear to school. Then I bought what I call a “clothes calendar” which is basically a cotton 6 shelf sweater organizer from Target (around $15) that hangs on the same bar in the closet as everything else. Then I stick labels on it for each day of the week, one day per shelf. On the weekend when I do his laundry, we take 5 minutes to pick out his outfits for the week, and put each one in the clothes calendar, and include underwear, socks and anything else he may need. The 6th shelf I use to put his shoes in. Now, every morning, he has a complete outfit ready and there is no more complaining or fighting and he can get ready completely on his own. We made it through the rest of 1st grade, all of 2nd grade, and are going smoothly through 3rd grade without a single fight about clothes. I just recently got one for my new kindergardener. They have paid for themselves 100 times over in my opinion just by avoiding fights. It would probably help Kelly and anyone else too.

Beverley on

I should have added that the clothes calendar saves me tons of time every day too.

Amanda on

Wow, i really like “listening” to her. She could write a book about her parenting and I would read it in a heartbeat. She seems fun, smart and very entertaining.
Her children are gorgeous..and her hubby??? not so bad on the eyes either…lol =)

aurora mia on

Beverly, I am so totally gonna rip off that cool idea!! That’s so brilliant! Plus you are empowering your child’s decision making skills 🙂 LOVE IT!

I love Kelly’s go with the flow style of parenting. I agree, Lola is going to be a handful when she’s a teenager!!

Dana on


We have a clothes calendar, too. Our organizer has 8 pockets. I let my 2 girls help pick out 8 bottoms on Sunday (laundry day). I then pick out the coordinating tops. Then, when they get up in the morning, they can pick one outfit out of any slot. On the weekends, they can pick anything out of their drawers, they don’t have to use the organizer. I love the 8 pocket organizer because my kids feel like they have choices since there are 3 outfits “leftover” at the end of the week.

Amanda on

I have always liked Kelly Ripa. I agree with JM- she seems very down to earth.

Julie on

I SPECIFICALLY remember my mother telling me she would give me “choices” too: “orange juice or lemonade” for example. It made me think I was being completely independent, while strict parameters were being met. I like Kelly even more after reading this!

Jennifer on

So nice to hear a celebrity Mom who actually works at being a parent and not a friend to their children! What a breath of fresh air that is. I love the part where she says giving in to them is good in the short run, but in the long run it’s not! More “today” parents should read this. There would be a lot more “good kids” in the world today if they did!

LolaCola on

I always had a hunch that Kelly was closer to her sons than her daughter, I guess I was right.

brooke on

Yea I second that lola will be a handful when older. I have noticed she always seemed pretty spoiled on the show, you rarely see her smile or look happy lol. Michael always seemed like a sweet boy

mslewis on

Michael does have a very good and sweet personality and seems very outgoing. He’s not shy at all. Perhaps Lola feels overshadowed by her older brother. Plus, Joaquin is the “baby” and probably gets a lot of attention since he’s only 5. Lola is in the middle and maybe she feels she needs to make a lot of “noise” to be heard!! I think Kelly is smart enough to not let things get too out of hand with Lola. I think the girl will be okay as she matures.