Despite her public split from husband Ryan Phillippe last year, Reese Witherspoon shares in a new interview with PARADE that the two share custody of their kids — Ava Elizabeth, 9, and Deacon Reese, 5 — and make a conscious effort to parent their children together. "My ex-husband is very involved in raising our beautiful children," says Reese, who goes on say that she and Ryan have been fortunate enough to share very similar parenting views. Having both grown up in "working families in middle America," Reese finds herself "on the same page" as Ryan in maintaining a structured life for both Ava and Deacon. "I’m teaching the children what we were taught growing up — a real set of rules, discipline, and love," says Reese, who believes "children thrive with a sense of structure and they’re frightened without it." Raised in Nashville, the 32-year-old reflects on her own childhood and has adopted many of the same rules and values her parents instilled in her, saying "those things don’t leave you."
Calling herself "the kind of person who just wants to hug people," Reese admits that being splashed all over tabloids can leave a bad first impression on many — a fact of life she wishes could be changed. However as determined as she is to face the paparazzi, after the birth of Ava, Reese became "very ‘Mama Bear’ and protective" of her lack of privacy as a new mother. According to the actress, who chooses to "hibernate a little bit more" as a result of the constant following, the demand for photos in Hollywood has escalated over the years to a point where her kids are often left terrified. For the mom of two, "the most difficult part is seeing my children being followed and harassed," including recently on Halloween when Ava and Deacon were enjoying a night out trick-or-treating. After finding themselves surrounded by flashing lights, the two "were shouted at in their Halloween costumes [with] photographers screaming, ‘You don’t look scared!’" recalls Reese. As the mayhem of Hollywood continues, the actress shares that, as a result, her daughter was ultimately forced to find a new school.
"They’ve been treated terribly. We used to take our daughter to a wonderful school, and she was so harassed that we had to take her out. I hope not to live in this place forever."