My Kids Have 'Been Treated Terribly,' Says Reese Witherspoon

11/20/2008 at 05:00 PM ET
Courtesy PARADE

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."

Source: PARADE

FILED UNDER: News , Parenting

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Alice on

How awful that photographers would scream at small children and terrify them. I don’t blame celebrities with families moving out of Los Angeles in order for their children to have a more “normal” childhood.

Sarita on

Why doesn’t she just leave Hollywood now? She is one of most succesful actresses, she could stop working all together or just forens. It’s not like she has to go to auditions.

Bren on

I admit that I love looking at photos of celebrities and their children, but paparazzis need to stay quiet and not harrass the children, we need a law that keeps them at least 10-20 feet away from the children!

I love how Reese and Ryan are so dedicated to Ava and Deacon, as sad as I was when they divorced I am so happy to see them be so mature about it and how they respect and say nice things about each other’s parenting skills. BRAVO!!!!!

Alicia on

I’m confused. Did she take Ava out of that particular school because the paparazzi were harassing her or because of the other kids in school?

Niv on

I love this site and visit it everyday so this is directed at myself as much as anything else but I can’t help reading these types of stories and think that we are viewing the very photographs that create such havoc in these children’s lives. CBB is great with their limits on what they will print (i.e. no crying babes) and thats why I feel comfortable with visiting but I couldn’t help but realize the irony……:(

MB on

I think suggesting she quit working is a little harsh, Sarita. She’s not arguing about the paps taking pictures of her, or even of them photographing her children, but about the lengths they go to take pictures of her kids. She has a right to do the job she loves and it would be silly, IMO, if she was arguing about having her picture taken, but I agree there should be laws about how paps can photograph celebs’ kids. Certainly Brad Pitt’s suggestion of paps using long lenses is reasonable.

Des on

I’m a photographer (not a pap!) and also a mother and I totally think the paps have some serious scumbag tactics! Maybe they should put some more investment into better lenses so they can be further away and not scare the poor kids. 400 mm anyone? There’s also a time and a place and seems they dont have ANY respect. Celebrities are human beings too.

We all like seeing pics, but they go WAY too far!

Chiara on

I kind of hate myself for picking on such a detail, but I think it’s a stretch for Reese to say that she comes from “a working class family in middle America”. Her father is a successful surgeon and she grew up attending exclusive private schools in the best parts of Nashville, not to mention beginning a life in Hollywood very young. I get that she meant that as an indication of the structured life she gives her children, but you don’t have to be working class to have values of structure.

Her parents (at least her father) “worked”, no question, but that’s not the connotation given out by a statement like that.

Joeanne on

If the paparazzi would just use long lenses like asked by many celeb parents they would probably get better pictures and the kids wouldn’t be bothered. Sometimes the pictures we get to see look unintrusive but then we see the video that goes along with the pictures. The family is often surrounded by shouting strangers pushing cameras into their faces. How do explain the madness to a kid?

Stac on

The paps aren’t going to change in time to benefit her kids, so I agree with Sarita. She could raise them somewhere else and commute as needed to film locations. Others do it, right?

LAcey on

When the paps go after the kids, that crosses the line. I don’t blame her for wanting to move.

Lacey on

Alicia- I believe it was the paps. I remember a while back several pictures of Ava with a nanny. Reese and Ryan told them they were not allowed to take pictures without them being there.

Heather on

If she plans on leaving Hollywood someday, she should leave no while her children are still more vulnerable than when they’re all grown up. But its terrible that she feels she has to leave. I enjoy looking at celebrity baby photos but I hate the way they go about getting them.

Kate on

Doesn’t anyone see the irony in this website – which makes money off publishing photos of celebrity babies and children, mostly taken without their permission, or the permission of their parents – publishing this? LOL

Michelle Z. on

Maybe she’s not ready to leave Hollywood for good because her children’s father is still there (or near there).

amandamay on

Chiara – Reese didn’t say “working CLASS families” she said “working families” – you misread it. I think her point was they are both from middle America and have more traditional families (parenting techniques/values etc) than some Hollywood folk.

candice on

That’s too bad. As much as I like keeping up with celebrity families, I do feel bad when I think of how hard it must be to grow up like that.

Sidenote, but that picture of Reese is awful. Holy airbrush, batman.

brooke on

She has a choice, she can choose to live like michael douglas and catheriene zeta jones, be movie stars but they live in berumada. I’m sure she could talk it over with ryan, and pick a place the kids could live it, if it affects her children so much, because she isn’t filming a movie everyday in CA. Demi moore and bruce willis lived out of ca too when the kids were young. Or she has enough money to retire and move away, if not she has to handle it, because paparazzi ain’t gonna chan=ge, nor are sites like this that post celebrity kids pics

Stizzylizzy on

I also agree with Sarita. “I hope to not live here forever”? Then leave NOW, for your children’s sake! Reese can work anywhere. Might just be me, but I can’t fathom choosing a career over my children’s wellbeing.

CelebBabyLover on

StizzyLizzy- I don’t think it’s that simple. As other commentors have pointed out, Ryan still lives in LA as well. Therefore, in order for them to see their father regularly, the kids need to be there as well. Obviously Reese can’t force Ryan to leave LA, and I can’t see her depriving her kids of regular visits with their father.

Also, the way she worded that comment (“I hope not to live in this horrible place forever”), makes me think that, for whatever reason, she HAS to live there right now.

Kristen on

As far as the “I hope not to live here forever” comment, Reese and Ryan said the same thing in an interview when Ava was a very young baby. Yet, they never moved. In fact, they sold their first house in LA and bought a more expensive one in Brentwood right after Deacon was born (which Reese still lives in). So I sincerely doubt that she will ever move, since they’ve been saying that for 9 years. At this point, it’s a little late to change that reality for the kids, especially Ava.

Lilly on

CA is a big state, both Reese and Ryan could move to some place like Santa Barbara (where some celebrities vacation or live) or some other place and still be close enough to LA to work during the few months out of the year they do work.

They will never stop photographing them, it is part of the business and a trade off for the kind of life and opportunities they are afforded, but I do think the paps should be licensed and monitored more. The agencies, local PD’s, and state lawmakers should work something out. They should be forced to at least be 20 ft away when there are kids with the celebs and photographing at or near their schools should be prohibited, not only for the celebs’ kids, but for the other children who have nothing to do with the celeb world.

Ms.B on

Hollywood is Hollywood and isn’t going to change, nor should it. Celebrities move to Hollywood KNOWING what they’ll encounter and then complain. I don’t get it… It’s not like most of them were born and raised in Hollywood, they come from cities that they could easily move back to, but they choose not to therefore they should all SHUT UP!

Any celebrity followed by paps without children should know it’s going to be 10x worse when they do have them!

phoebe on

This is a difficult situation to comment on. On the one hand, I have massive sympathy for Reese because there is no excuse for someone doing to her children what she says is happening, but on the other hand, I’m with some of the other posters on here. There are ways to handle the attention, and we know this because we’ve seen other people do it. Look at Brad and Angie for a start, when there are photos of the brood, they are usually long lense or staged, which is fantastic because we get to see the kids but it’s somewhat controlled. I don’t doubt that there are times that family gets ambushed as well, but in the wider sense, there are ways to handle the attention. Most celebrities realise that they would be total hypocrits to complain that they get photographed (or even that their children get photographed), but there must be some control.

I’m not famous, but I am a Londoner and I’ve seen how bad the paps can be here. I’ve watched the Beckhams be surrounded (amongst others) and it’s scary to watch, let alone actually concieve of living it every day.

My specific opinion on what Reese said, is that if the attention is as bad as she says, and it does sound like it’s bordering on abusive now, then she must follow through on her plans to live elsewhere. I can’t believe that she and Ryan couldn’t come to some kind of agreement for the sake of Ava and Deacon. It’s pointless her complaining now and then not doing anything to change it. The paps aren’t going to change, there’s no incentive there, but Reese and Ryan have the chance to make the difference themselves. If there is a reason she can’t move out of town, fair enough, but like others have said, she could commute.

Aya on

I’m curious to know if she can retire now and move away. I wonder if not, what she will work as.

My favourite parts of this site actually aren’t the baby pictures.

I really think to protect these children a law should be passed like in Monaco where they blank out the child’s face.

I think though that all these celebrities need to band together and take a stand as to what they want to do. It doesn’t help when so many of them are selling their baby pictures and stuff.I understand why some of them do it, but it just adds more fuel to the fire.

It’s awful how the paps treat celebrities sometimes (remember Rebecca Rojmin being baited with “oh your a B that is why your husband left you”).The way they bait the children aren’t any better.I remember when Reese was almost in an accident with the children in the car because the paps were chasing her.

And I can totally see her having to switch schools especially because of other students.I hate the excuse of “oh it’s because they are celebrities” that these people get away with this stuff. Imagine how you would feel if a friend copied pictures of your child from facebook etc and posted it elsewhere and it ended up on some unsavoury site. Why should she have to move and pull her kids away from their friends etc? Why shouldn’t she have the same rights we do ? I’m just saying..

emma on

Poor Ava – how horrible for her. Really, with the huge zoom lenses and hi-tech equipment the paparazzi carry nowadays there is no need for them to get quite so close to ANY children. They can still get great pictures at a much less scary distance. The celebrity parents are different – after all, they chose to be in the spotlight and it annoys me when they complain about it BUT their children are an entirely different matter, they should be left alone a little bit more. Yes, I love the photos as much as anyone but – as I’ve said above – there’s no need for the paparazzi to be so invasive in order to get nice photos.

DLR on

it is so strange that people like us (yes, whenever we read CBB we contribute to the situation) are the cause of so much harassment of celebrities and thier children. *sighs* it is quite ironic. i think the paparazzi have gotten more “violent” over the past decade. so yeah, it is awful that ava would be harassed enough at her school her parents had to seek out a more private and secure school.

MB on

Actually Phoebe, most of the pics of Brad and Angie’s kids are NOT long-lensed or staged. There was an interview with Brad on Oprah posted here a couple of days ago about just this topic. He’s told paps he knows they have a job to do but asked that they use long-lenses. However, the paps routinely scare his kids (Z gets particularly upset) and go to insane lengths to get pictures of them. I think it’s probably a lot worse than even what Reese’s kids get.

Lis on

I too, agree with Sarita. I love, love, love Reese to death, but I think that if her children are frightened, then she basically has no choice but to move…

On a side note, I hate when people (not just celebrities) say that they put their kids first and that they do what truly makes kids happy… If that were the case, I think we’d have a lot less divorced parents… I pretty sure most children (not all, but most) would want their parents together. So I just find it hypocritical when I hear someone say that they’re doing what’s best for their children/putting their children first, after they have split. And I’m not saying that divorce isn’t necessary in some situations, but I think that most marriages could be worked out/saved for the sake of their children… Because that would TRULY be putting your children first…

Brandi on

Why should someone be forced/scared out of their own home? It’s their home! These paps get away with everything and a lot of these celebs are being charged with crimes (i.e. Jude Law, Keanu Reeves, even Kanye West, etc.) Remember when Ava had her birthday party at Disneyland? A photographer (a grown man) pushed a little kid out of the way to get a shot of Ava and/or Reese. There need to be boundaries and laws.

phoebe on

MB, the reason I mentioned the JP’s was because there are relatively few photos of them that aren’t staged in some way, which I actually think is good. I’m certain that when the paps get the chance to get close to them, they treat them awfully. They just seem to be handling the whole situation better than others, maybe it’s because of the levels of attention they get. I guess my main point was just to try to understand why Reese moaned about the attention and then didn’t do the one thing she knew would stop it, and that’s to move. And yes, we could argue that she isn’t a criminal, she shouldn’t have to move around the country to get some peace and quiet, but bottom line, she chose this life, and if she can’t find a way to control it for her kids, she would need to do the next best thing and get out before this is the only childhood her babies know. That might sound harsh, but there’s no point in making a stand if you’re not going to follow through on it. I love Reese and Ryan and their kids are adorable, I just can’t see why they would put up with such horrific behaviour if there was a way to change it.

Joy on

That cover picture is horrible. Reese is absolutely beautiful (I love her) so it isn’t her fault. Whoever was in charged over airbrushed and it looks like the picture was flipped (what looks like her left side is really her right side) – as if we are looking at the the negative from the back. I don’t like when editors/photographers flip pictures. The people look completely different because most people don’t have a symmetrical face.

I know this has nothing to do with celebrity babies, but I just had to comment.

Cheryl on

I can’t believe that you guys have nothing better to do than nit-pick what a celebrity you have never met said in a magazine article and then sit and argue back and forth with each other on-line like a bunch of pathetic losers! Reading the articles and seeing the pictures is fun “entertainment” but doesn’t warrant arguing with complete strangers over the content of an article does it? You make yourselves look silly.

Karen on

I can understand Reese’s concern. As an adult it is terrifying to be in the vicinity of “photographers” who’s aim is to capture so-called celebrities. Obviously some of them are doing quite well (IE: Driving Range Rovers, etc) to do a job watching, waiting & following a person, let alone stalking for those nice pictures outside the kids’ schools. The peaked interest in the offspring has made an already bad situation even worse. Los Angeles is a huge county (not to mention the surrounding counties) & there are areas that can afford a person even more privacy… depending. I can understand moving from the Hollywood Hills to Brentwood as it is more private & family oriented. It’s what I did & yes, more expensive but worth the money you get for the environment, larger diverse lots, further away from the chaos of BH & Hollywood & better schools. Reese’s involvement in the entertainment industry isn’t just in the acting genre alone, which would make proximity a necessity throughout the year. Also, Ryan also doesn’t enjoy the same career as Reese does. I think it would cause more of a problem for the kids stability to try to maintain joint custody from out of the state & that’s if BOTH parties agree. It’s a nice idea but not always feasible. Anyhow, just my 2 cents.

Alyssa on

leave hollywood, though?
even if she stopped working as an actress or what not, SHE WILL STILL BE REESE WITHERSPOON. paps will still want to take pictures and only because lames have nothing else to do with their lives but care about others lives

natalie on

can i correct reese? having a father as a ears, nose, and throat doctor and a mother who is a doctorate of pediatric nursing, raised in nashville, going to an all girls private, preparatory school, being a debutante, and having roots to a signer of the declaration of independence is NOT “working class.”

i do feel for her children, but they are fortunate to live the lifestyle and luxuries that are afforded to them by having celebrity parents and hopefully they will look back and see that rather than paparazzi. however, i do feel that their parents attitude towards the paparazzi every day fosters the fear in their children. although they do have the right to feel that their privacy is being infridged and the children did not choose their parent’s lifestyle, some celebrity parents are able to let it go and act indifferent and sometimes friendly towards the paparazzi out in public. as a result, their children aren’t scared because their parents aren’t.

Sarita on

Alyssa, you are one of the people that have nothing better to do apparently and just as the rest of us on this website we are pying the paparazzi to follow around this children and take photos.

If she would leave Hollywood she wouldn’t be photographed nearly as much.

dallas on

I love Reese, but I think it is time for her to put her children first and move….many stars have moved away for the limelight and still have an outstanding career. Meryl Streep for one!

lisa on

Um. I rarely comment… but seriously, people, re-read her comments. if you want to jump at her for her comments, you might as well get them right… she said that she and Ryan had similar parenting ideas “Having both grown up in “working families in middle America,” … Not WORKING CLASS…. she said WORKING FAMILIES.

Geesh, please, make sure you double check before getting all worked up!

Tara on

She may not be able to leave LA because of custody agreements/divorce settlement stuff..? Also, whether her not her father was wealthy, I have often thought that she seems more down to earth with more morals and good head on her shoulders than most of the other celebrities.

mevlüt şekeri on

mevlüt şekeri

Crystal on

I agree with some of the posters on here. Reece probably has her reasons for not moving including the custody agreement she has with Ryan. I’m sure if she could move she would but she’s trying to make the best out of a difficult situation. She is my favorite actress. I could watch Sweet Home Alabama all day every day. I loooove that movie!! Good-Luck to her, Ryan, Ava and Deacon.

Erica on

I don’t believe that Reese has no choice but to stay in LA/Hollywood. Ryan strikes me as a totally devoted father and I believe that if she really wanted to, he would be willing to work something out so she could move her and the kids outside of the city and to a less pap-heavy area of the state. Yes, the attention is in part unavoidable because of who she is, but there are plenty of celebs who work out of LA and live elsewhere. To say that she hopes to be able to leave one day is disingenous because she doesn’t have to work another day in her life if she chose not to.

Desirey on

It amazes me that people are suggesting the celebrity parents should alter their lives in such profound ways (like giving up what they love doing) in order to keep their children safe. Absolutely, the children and their safety should be the most important things but why has it come to such a drastic point? It would be one thing if inappropriate yelling, dangerous driving, complete lack of respect for children’s space, etc were just “part of the business” but it is ridiculous to suggest that the behaviors of the paparazzi over the last few years is even remotely acceptable, let alone acceptable enough to expect parents to change their lives to accommodate them. If every celebrity parent “simply” left the business, aside from the obvious blow the quality of entertainment, it’d be a pretty explicit message to the paps; “keep it up. if the celebs can’t handle it, they should move.”

CelebBabyLover on

phoebe- I’m confused by your statement. How exactly are most pictures of the Jolie-Pitt kids staged? Most of the pictures we see of them are of them doing normal, every day things, such as getting picked up or dropped off at school, going to the candy store, going to the art supply store, etc.

Desirey- ITA! I also agree with Alyssa that Reese and her kids would likely still be photographed if they moved away from Hollywood. Also, I would imagine that moving out of the state would be very difficult for her because of the joint custody agreement, and moving to another part of the state probably isn’t going to do anything to lessen the amount of paps following them.

For example, I think Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, and Violet (and soon-to-be Baby Affleck number 2!) live in Brentwood rather than LA (I’m guessing this because Jen and Violet are seen at the Brentwood Farmer’s Market a lot!), and yet they still get photographed all the time!

Unfourtnately, I think they’d have to leave the state if they wanted to lessen the paparazzi attention, and that, as other comments have pointed out, may not be feasible.

I also want to point out that some celebs get followed by the paps wherever they go. For example, the Jolie-Pitts seem to get bombared by the paps even in foregin countries! There are only four places I can think of where they are followed by few or no paps: France, Germany, Namibia, and Cambodia.

Likewise, the paps have followed the Holmes-Cruises to New York, Germany, Italy (when they got married), Paris, and I think London (I’m not positive about that one).

phoebe on

I mean that the JPs stage photos to control the paps. There are some photos of them that are obviously pap ambushings, but a lot you can tell are also very controlled, in stark contrast to the likes of the Holmes-Cruise clan. Yes, some photos of the JPs are terrible because the kids are scared, but they have a much better way than others do. I think many more than we are led to believe are staged, and well done to them for doing it. A friend of mine works in PR and this has included working with and for a-list celebs and the paps, and trust me, a lot of photos look really spontaneous and they aren’t. I’m not saying that the JPs do this, but it would be naive to think that celebs don’t have control over some photos when they do. Also, the JPs are doing something right, how many pictures have we seen of them recently? Or since the twins birth? They’re not doing too badly, considering the interest.

Barbi Rodriguez on

That is what comes with the price of fame. I do not understand why these top celebrities complain when they have enough money to buy a private island and enjoy the rest of the lives with family and friends.

Chiara on

I didn’t misread Reese’s comment. Read my comment again. I was referring to the obvious connotation of such a statement.

I’m just a little tired of the implication that you have to grow up in “middle America” to have good values. If your mother or father doesn’t work, are you bound to miss out on values? I doubt Reese meant as much; it’s just such an accepted stereotype that nobody thinks twice about it. But it’s not ok.