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Jennifer Garner Says Daughters Enjoy a 'Normal Upbringing'

09/29/2009 at 02:00 PM ET
Juan Rico/Fame

Raising normal kids in abnormal circumstances is something most celebrity parents will struggle with at some point, but Jennifer Garner notes in a new interview that normal is a relative term.

Although she laments the lack of laws in place to protect the privacy of Violet Anne, 3 ½, and Seraphina Rose Elizabeth, 8 ½ months, she nonetheless believes they have enjoyed “a very normal upbringing.”

“They do have things that are really exciting for them and strange for them, I’m sure. Like living in a different place for a while then going back home. But kids have that with parents with all different jobs so I try not to look at it as something that is a problem. But kids are kids, they think whatever goes on in their lives is normal.”

When asked to describe her perfect day, the 37-year-old actress depicts something that sounds quite normal indeed: Some quality time with each daughter, and then playtime together, followed by a home-cooked meal “where there’s enough [food] left over for another day” and “a glass of wine and a conversation” with husband Ben Affleck.

The picture she paints is in keeping with Jennifer’s low-maintenance approach to her wardrobe — especially by celebrity standards! “If you look at the pictures taken every day of my life you’ll see that I do not make it work most of the time,” she jokes. “I am in jeans that are on the floor from last night and one of the five t-shirts that I rotate.”

“I do know moms who pull it together every day — I am not one of them. But when I do, I try to really pull it together so it makes some kind of impact. Sometimes for yourself you just need to take a shower, put on something clean, put on a little blush and go out the door.”

Click below to read Jennifer’s advice for working moms.

Taking the time to take care of herself is something she hopes Violet and Seraphina take note of as they get older, among other things! “It’s so important to me that they grow up with a healthy self-esteem, confidence and knowing just where to kick if they need to,” Jennifer says. “You want to set the best example you can for them in every way. You want them to grow up and be proud of you.”

From the sound of things, they already have much to be proud of — and grateful for! — when it comes to mom’s skills in the kitchen!  With an affinity for “homey” foods — one recent dinner consisted of roast chicken, butternut squash with brown sugar, brown rice and roasted broccoli — Jennifer says that she also whips up a wheat pizza once a week. Her food choices for the girls are carefully planned. She explains,

“When my daughter is the hungriest, that’s when I try to have vegetables out for her to snack on while I’m finishing dinner. So I don’t start with putting her favorite thing in front of her, I start with putting some snap peas or broccoli with dip or carrots to get her going. I rarely do take-out. I like to be in charge of what we eat. I’m a control freak that way!”

As for her advice for other working moms, Jennifer says rely on others for help “wherever you can” and “don’t guilt yourself” because “it doesn’t help.” She also recommends that you let the dishes wait!

“Do anything you can to try to save time with the dumb stuff around the house so you can be with your kids as much as you can. And put your BlackBerry down and just be with them.”

If her transition to life as a mom-of-two appears seamless, Jennifer says it is her former show Alias that deserves the credit. Shooting the series acclimated her to both a lack of sleep and the notion of giving her all — each and every day. “Everybody talked about how hard the sleep thing was with babies and I thought, ‘Oh this isn’t that bad,'” she admits. “You’re sleeping some!”

The “never-ending” side of motherhood can be “harsh,” however, she notes. “There’s never a weekend or there’s never a night [off]…On Alias, at least I had to stay in shape for my job so it was just part of my day no matter what,” she points out. “Now finding that hour for myself is much harder to find; I have to do it before they’re awake.”

When she is in need of a sympathetic ear or some sage advice, Jennifer says she often turns to her mom. “She always says, ‘Happiness is your own responsibility,'” Jennifer reveals, “And she always says, ‘Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes in the morning.'” Noting that “most of our little bites of advice as kids came from either Little House on the Prairie or Anne of Green Gables,” Jennifer says that her mother also led by example.

“My mom was really vigorous about making sure that we saw things and that we questioned things. Education was so important to both of my parents. My mom grew up in poverty in Oklahoma — like Dust Bowl, nine people in one room kind of place — and the way she got out of poverty was through education. My dad grew up without a dad, with very little and he also made his way out through education.”

So inspired by their success was Jennifer, it motivated her to sign on as an ambassador for Save The Children. “[Education has] always been emphasized in my house,” she explains. “There’s so much missed opportunity with all of these kids all across the country who aren’t getting what they need to do well in school and once you don’t do well in school you don’t want to go to school. So it’s a cycle in our country that’s very sobering.” She adds,

“I have always been drawn to child-related causes. I find that people listen to me more when I advocate for children now that I have my own. We all have a responsibility to volunteer somewhere and I’m lucky that I get the education and get taken to places to see what’s out there and see what’s happening and to then be a part of it in hopefully an impactful way.”

Jennifer’s new movie — The Invention of Lying — is in theaters October 2nd.

Source: PARADE

– Missy

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Showing 39 comments

Sunny on

She seems like a wonderful mom who is raising well-grounded kids. I like Jennifer and Ben as a couple and hope all those rumors that keep coming out about them separating every now and then are only rumors!

michelle on

I fell in love with her on Alias and still love her today. She is by far, my favorite celebrity mom. And to me, the only woman worthy of Ben Affleck. : )

Cheyane on

I agree with you Sunny. This is my favorite celeb family and I hope they make it the distance. They seem perfect for each other. Even though they’re a celebrity family they don’t act like it. They’re family oriented and its great to see.

Jessica on

I love this lady. No pretention, no fake personas…I really admire how she is who she is all the time! Not many women in Hollywood seem this down to earth and classy, with a sense of humor to boot (super cute interview on Jay Leno recently). Much respect.

Elizabeth on

Jennifer sounds like such a wonderful person. I love that she tries to keep things normal and grounded for her girls.

Tess on

While I agree with her that there should be more laws to protect the kids, re paparazzi and such, if she’s worried about their privacy, the least she can do is refrain from talking about them in interviews. I’m not sure we need to know what she makes the kids for dinner.

Jessica on

Tess, I don’t know about you, but for me most of the time during every conversation I have something about my kids is said. I can’t see faulting her for talking about her life. It’s not like she goes off script and mentions them. Those interviews are not just about her “work” but about her as a person too. Casually mentioning them in a interviews doesn’t give the paps a right to invade her kids privacy.

Lola Marie on

Keep it real Jen :-)

The Writer on

Tess, allow me to roll my eyes … I hardly think that her talking about her dinner-cooking routine is fodder for the rumor mill and an invasion of her children’s privacy. She was speaking more about how she likes to be hands-on with her family than about whether Violet likes peas or carrots. Jennifer is an awesome celeb mom!

Lola Marie on

Tess…what mother can refrain from talking about her children? And besides its not like she does much of that.

noam on

tess-ben affleck has said that, though he doesn’t necessarily like it, he’ll talk about his kids in effort to satisfy public curiousity. he said that they can control the stories/information they say on talk shows, but they can’t control paparazzi photos. i don’t know if it’s working–there have been shots of both violet and seraphina recently–but i guess they can keep trying. anyways-love them! i think they’re such a grounded, sensible couple.

Tess on

Yeah, I knew I’d get slammed for my comment. And I stand by what I said. If she wants to protect the kids’ privacy, don’t talk about them.

Jessica – if she wants to talk about her life, that’s fine. But then she shouldn’t complain about her kids’ privacy. If she’s promoting her work, not her life, then she can just talk about work. What’s wrong with that?

The Writer – you can roll your eyes, that’s cool. I roll my eyes a lot on this blog.

Lola Marie – a celebrity mother (or father) who wants to give her kids as much privacy as possible and therefore refuses to talk about them? She could easily say the kids are great, but I don’t want to discuss them, and then promote whatever film she’s promoting.

Stephany on

Tess, I think talking about her children in an interview is a whole lot different than the paparazzi hounding her at her child’s preschool for picture after picture. She controls what is said and I don’t think she’s doing anything wrong! While I understand where you’re coming from, I honestly don’t see it as a big deal.

I love, love, love Jen and Ben! They are such a down-to-earth couple and I just love the way they live their life!

Erika on

I really like this family! I agree they seem so real and down to earth.

As far as the paparazzi situation, I don’t think the stories make so much of a difference, it’s them complaining of the lack of privacy. While I agree they have virtually no privacy, and it’s sad that they are photograped way too much (if you go on justjared or tmz, there are pictures almost every day), I think if they stop talking about how it annoys them, it will lessen. Complaining adds fuel to their fire, and if you ignore it and don’t show a reaction, they will lose interest. Nothing will ever make it right for the paparazzi to follow them around, but this might have helped it to stop. Just my thoughts.

freebreeze on

I agree with Tess. They want it both ways and lots of celebs don’t talk much about their kids ie Isla Fisher…

Summer on

Unfortunately, paparazzi attention comes with being an A-List celebrity these days. That wasn’t the case years ago, and perhaps won’t be in the future. I can certainly understand wanting to protect your kids, but I think that the best thing you can do as a celebrity is work with the paparazzi and the public. I always admire the celebrities that teach their kids not to be afraid of the paparazzi, I think that’s the best approach. Many times, if they just let them get a few pictures, you can ask them to back off. And there is the option to release your own pictures to the public, which brings down the amount of money the paparazzi would get from photos of you and the kids, and would cause them to focus on someone else who they could make more money from. I think there are a lot of things a celebrity could do in this situation, they don’t have to cut off the public entirely from information and photos, though.

Sarah K. on

I agree with Tess. I understand the other side of the argument, but privacy is privacy. Celebs like Ewan McGregor, Isla Fischer/Sascha Cohen, Nicole Kidman, etc. refrain from talking about their kids just fine. They make it clear that their kids are off limits and change the topic. It’s not that hard, especially when you’re already concerned about your kids.

MZ on

I don’t think celebs can win. On one hand, people say Jennifer appears hypocritical for talking about her kids and she could be more like Nicole Kidman, but Nicole gets slammed on posts for seeming like she doesn’t care about her kids b/c she won’t discuss them at all in interviews but her ex does. I happen to like both actresses very much, and I really respect Nicole for respecting her older children’s wishes not to be mentioned in interviews and I respect Jennifer for trying to figure out boundaries, which I think probably takes some trial and error.

mary on

I’m not going to comment on anything but this
“When she is in need of a sympathetic ear or some sage advice, Jennifer says she often turns to her mom. “She always says, ‘Happiness is your own responsibility,’” Jennifer reveals, “And she always says, ‘Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes in the morning.’” Noting that “most of our little bites of advice as kids came from either Little House on the Prairie or Anne of Green Gables,” Jennifer says that her mother also led by example”
She’s right; all of us need a sympathetic ear or some advice now and then. Just before reading this site today my 16year old daughter (soon to be 17) had a bad day at school. An ex boyfriend of hers was in charge of her powder puff game. He not only had her sit on the side line for most of the game (when she was in she scored 20 of their 34 points, I told her it’s an in his face moment) he also called her a “fat ass” she is 5’6 and weighs 110 lbs. She just told me it’s not about weight but a derogative name. Right now I wish my mom was alive I just lost her a year ago and I miss her wisdom. My father passed away when I was 13. So I feel like an orphan. I’m so not ready for this teenage angst. I can’t wait for the morning. Jennifer is right there does seem to be “joy in the morning”. Unfortunately a 16 does not understand that. All I could tell her is I was proud watching her play. And the parents, even this boy’s parents said she is a” very good and an aggressive player”. And having said all that to her she is still hurt.
Jennifer sounds down to earth. I always make sure that the blackberry is put down and my attention is all theirs. Yeah they do complain at times that I am over protective but I only have them for so long and then their off and on their own. Enjoy them pain and happiness while we can.

JM on

mary what you wrote really touched me for some reason. partly because when i turned 16 i had the most difficult time of my whole life. my grandmother whom i was extremely close to passed away as did one of my closest friends whom i had grown up with, was like a sister to me and was only 15 herself. i was very confused and felt completely lost. i now have so much understanding for teenagers and always try to engage with them when i see they are going through that awkward, confusing time. we have all been there yet when we went through it we all felt like we were the only ones going through it.

this may be of no use to you, but at the time what really helped me was music. you know your daughter best so you’ll know what she might like but it’s just a suggestion. finding certain songs or a certain kind of music can really make you feel understood and could help her express herself. my dad took me aside when i was 16 and introduced me to the music of bob dylan. it changed my life. i started caring about bigger issues, became principled and interested in being a good person and doing the right thing. i felt he expressed things i had always felt and yet he too was a bit of a misfit. i guess i stopped feeling so alone. and to top it off my dad and i became closer than ever before, and to this day it is something that bonds us.
it’s just a suggestion, and i as i said, no one knows your kids better than you. but it really helped me and i just felt like telling you.

i am really really sorry about your mum, just remember all you can do as a mum is try your best. that’s all. you try your best to be the best mother you can be and you will have found the most profound and most valuable way of repaying your own mother because she will have created a wonderful human being for the world. and you can carry on knowing she would be proud of you.
all the best!

RIP Michael on

She was itching for negative responses to her post :-D

MissCate on

I think she was talking more about her approaches to being a mother, rather than her children specifically. When she is promoting and supporting Save The Children, why shouldn’t she share her own experiences of joy and struggle in order to help others?

Jennifer’s frank and upfront approach to motherhood is refreshing in a world where other celebrities gush about how perfect and wonderful their children are.

CelebBabyLover on

Sarah K.- Um, Nicole has talked about Sunday plenty in interviews! :)

CelebBabyLover on

Oh, and Isla Fisher has spoken about Olive, too. :)

CelebBabyLover on

MZ- I agree! Back in 2007, when Angelina Jolie was promoting A Mighty Heart, the movie studio sent out a document requesting that interviewers refrain from asking Angie personal questions (not all of them abided by that, as some did ask Angie about the kids).

People got all up in arms about that and jumped all over Angie for it….even though she wasn’t even the one who made the “no personal questions” request.

Yet when Jennifer Garner DOES talk about her daughters in interviews, people jump all over her!

freebreeze on

” Jennifer’s frank and upfront approach is refreshing in a world where so many other celebrities gush about how perfect and wonderful their children are..”

PLEASE! Jen is endlessly raving on about Violet…its nauseating!

Manon on

I think she’s great and a great poster girl for fun and caring motherhood but like most actresses not averse to using her “mom” role a lot to paint her preferred picture of herself: “down to earth mom who is the same as any other mom…”

Still, what she’s saying is pretty harmless, just talking about eating habits and quite generic childcare topics and sweet stories. What I am not keen on is the more personal stuff like the jenny Garth story about disciplining her child for being aggressive. I know I’ll get jumped on for saying this but I personally don’t like it. Still, it IS normal to talk about one’s children and share a little experience with others. BOTH Jennifer Garner and Jenny Garth are light years away from Tori Spelling! (Sad thing about Tori is that she is doing with her children exactly the thing that made her unhappy when she herself was growing up).

Benigna Marko on

So nice. This is just wonderful. Congratulations on having wonderful girls and your motherly upbringing.
Benigna Marko

Sarah K. on

CelebBabyLover, actually we don’t really know any real details about Sunday or Olive. We don’t know what they eat for dinner or how they ruined the carpets with honey, or their tantrums in restaurants, etc, etc. I can list 100x more details about Violet than I ever could about Sunday/Olive. If their mothers mention them, it’s pretty general. It’s about how great motherhood is and not about all the cute little things their daughters do. Not nearly as specific as what we hear from Jennifer Garner. There’s a big difference.

I;m not faulting Jen and Ben at all. I just agree with the idea that if you want your kids’ lives to be private you really have to make an effort not to talk about them.

And, I do see that they’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. I think it’s ridiculous that celebs like Nicole Kidman are criticized for not sharing intimate details of their kids’ lives while promoting for work. We have no right to that information.

Terri on

I think Jennifer is a beautiful person, inside and out.

skhg on

I certainly don’t understand some of you people. This is a beautiful article, and meant to reach out to other women(parents). It’s not invasive at all of her childrens privacy. She’s simply telling us how she gets through it, and in no way is saying she’s perfect. Anyone with kids understands it’s a hard job and normally welcomes all the help they can get. I can’t imagine how anyone that’s truly interested in parenting, can criticize Jens advice. It’s not up to you to judge. Why not read it and move on if you don’t like it?

Kasee on

I personally laughed out loud at the story with Violet pouring the honey on the carpet. It is nice to hear stories like that instead of someone going on and on about how their child is a genius. And I don’t think Jennifer sharing that story gives anyone the right to shove a camera in her kid’s face while she’s leaving preschool.

Rosy J on

I love Jen and appreciate any little thing she chooses to share about her adorable little ones. I completely understand and find it hard to understand why some would think that sharing little stories about her kids could give paparazzi the right to invade their privacy. This media crazed papazzi and tabloid madness originated with celebs opting to sell photos of their children. This is something Jen and Ben have never done. The truth of the matter is that if they never uttered a word about their children to the press there would still be that crush to photograph the kids. Quite frankly, I don’t think Jen or Ben have been that outspoken about this issue.(their objection to the intrusion most definitely can be seen in most pap pics snapped) They are however, one the most sought after couples when it comes to baby picture simply because their kids are so incredibly adorable, perhaps? The public has yet to see closeups and/or staged photos of the Garner-Afflecks girls. There are not many if any celebs of their status who can make this claim.

Mia on

I was just going to comment that I think its adorable how Violet looks more like Ben, and little Sera is all mommy..she is just the cutest little button!

MiB on

As a former nanny, childminder and pre school teacher, iI have to say, I love her qoute “But kids are kids, they think whatever goes on in their lives is normal.”

Mary-Helen on

I would love to look @ Jen as a normal mom, but IMO it seems like she pimps out those girls whenever she has a movie out. She will flip out if anyone talks about them or shows a picture of them but then as soon as she is promoting a movie, boom! The paps are allowed to photograph them, splash them on People and US and then she’s all “I need to talk about what a normal mom I am.” It’s just so smug. It’s not how she talks about them, because she just shares little anecdotes, but it’s how she will tell mags not to put up pics of the kids or ask her about them, but then when she has a new project, kids are open season. I think if she truly wanted more control over the kids being photographed, she would live outside of Hollywood. Look @ Toby Maguire and his family or Christian Bale and his family, rarely photographed because they live outside of Tinsel Town.

CelebBabyLover on

Mary-Helen- Actually, CBB and PEOPLE still are not posting paparazzi shots of the girls, so I hardly think she actually allows photos to be taken when she has a movie out and not at other times. Also, there are ALWAYS paparazzi photos of the Garner-Affleck girls, even when Jennifer doesn’t have a movie to promote.

I fail to see how she “allows” the kids to be photographed when she has a movie to promote, but not at other times. If that were true, we’d rarely ever see pictures of the girls! Anyway, all you need to do is look at the pap photos to see that both Jen and Ben really do resent the paparazzi intrusion (considering Jen is on record saying that the paps have actually knocked down some of Violet’s pre-school classmates while attempting to get photos of her, I don’t blame them one little bit!).

Also, Jennifer is an A-List star. She hardly needs to use her children to promote her movies!

mimi on

Okay so she’s a good mom, why do people put her on a pedestal, I really don’t get it. It’s as if she invented motherhood in Hollywood lmao.

Angie W. on

FINALLY, a celebrity’s wardrobe I can afford to imitate!!! I, too, wear the jeans on the floor from the night before and rotate t-shirts through the summer and sweaters in the fall. I read somewhere that the average person only utilizes 10% of their wardrobe and that’s probably pretty accurate. Thanks Jen for giving a shout-out to real mommies everywhere!!!

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