Marcia Gay Harden Embraces City Life With Her Family

12/10/2009 at 06:00 PM ET
Bryan Bedder/Getty

The secret is out: there is no secret to juggling life as a working mother! In a new interview with Time Out Kids, Marcia Gay Harden reveals that her seemingly put-together appearance when it comes to raising her children — Eulala Grace, 11, and twins Hudson Harden and Julitta Dee, 5 ½ —  is far from what it seems.

In addition to her “great and responsible husband” Thaddaeus Scheel, Marcia isn’t afraid to ask for a hand when needed!

“I’m fortunate to have a team of people who help me,” she confesses. “I’ve got an assistant, an office manager, a nanny — she’s not full-time, but she’s there when I need her.”

Despite the added assistance — “I certainly don’t keep [all the] balls in the air all by myself” — Marcia has been known to have the occasional mommy moment!

“The balls are dropping all the time.”

Born in California, Marcia has found herself captivated by city life. Truly enjoying everything New York City has to offer, Marcia and her family have laid down their roots in Harlem — a fact the actress is quite proud of!

“Harlem is a very family-oriented neighborhood and it always has been,” she states. Once “ignored by the city,” later resulting in a deep suffering “from crack and other drugs,” Harlem is back in full force, the mother-of-three proclaims, and it’s time to take note!

“Everybody says ‘Good Morning’ in Harlem because it’s true! And that’s lovely. It’s fantastic for us to live there, to be in such a diverse neighborhood. We feel welcome up there.”

And while other fellow celebrity moms may disagree, Marcia feels there is no noticeable roadblock when it comes to raising children in the city. “The only thing difficult about the city is when you have a little baby in a stroller and you’re trying to take the subway and you have to bump down the stairs,” she concedes.

The problem, however, is one that comes with a quick solution! “But then you fall in love with the city because some New Yorker inevitably helps you.”

Click below to read Marcia’s thoughts on education and teaching responsibility.

When it comes to education, Marcia has opted for private schools for her kids. Her decision, she notes, has little to do with the great public versus private debate — “There are some really wonderful public schools in NYC and some programs that are absolutely on par with private ones,” she states — and more to do with her stance on education. “I wanted them to be in a school where the arts are really phenomenal,” Marcia explains.

The classroom approach, she believes, should involved less testing and more exploring! “It’s important that kids learn, but I really don’t like all the testing, testing, testing,” she says. “I like programs that are hands-on, where kids learn about the Brooklyn Bridge by going to the Brooklyn Bridge.”

For Eulala, her mother’s nontraditional views on education have even extended into her own life. With Marcia a non-believer in homework, calling the task “BS,” assignments are often placed second on the family’s list of priorities. “It’s very hypocritical to constantly say we want to keep our kids close, then send them home with so much homework that family time becomes nonexistent,” Marcia claims.

“I had to tell Eulala that while she might not finish her homework, she has to find an hour to spend with her brother and sister every night and have dinner with the family.”

That said, her daughter’s school is even teaching a lesson or two to Marcia when it comes to parenting. Comparing herself to Park Slope parents in that she “probably does get too involved” in her kids’ life at times, the actress admits she recently refrained from coming to the rescue in the hopes of instilling a sense of responsibility in Eulala.

“My daughter forgot her clarinet, so I was wondering, ‘Should I rush it over to her school or not?’ I didn’t,” she reveals. “Normally I do. But actually her school is encouraging us not to do things like that. How will she learn responsibility unless I let her be responsible?”

Although Marcia is loving her current stint on Broadway in God of Carnage, her late-night schedule is less than ideal in regards to her family life. “In truth, it’s been difficult because I’ve been in the play at night and my kids are in school during the day,” she admits. “So I’m free when they’re not.”

That said, what time she does enjoy with her family is time well spent by all! The family’s favorite pastime? Curling up with a good book. “Eulala and I are reading the Harry Potter series; we have one more book to go,” the actress shares. As for Hudson and Julitta, their reading skills are soaring in their own ways. “Hudson is now reading on his own; Julitta has a different kind of imagination and reads pictures,” Marcia adds.

In addition to bonding over books, the family is determined to share as much quality time together as possible. As a result, mornings are often spent together over breakfast. “It’s hard to have mommy time while I’m in God of Carnage, so we do things in the morning,” says Marcia.

“We also have breakfast together and we try to have dinner together.”

Source: Time Out Kids

— Anya

FILED UNDER: Multiples , News , Parenting

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Showing 13 comments

Colleen on

I am definitely on Marcia’s side for homework being “BS”. I was a smart kid in school, but my grades wouldn’t reflect this, since I hated doing homework (which most kids do as I am well aware). But I applaud her for being so involved in her children’s future, education-wise.

urbanadventurertales on

I often wonder what the perspective the nannies are that work for celebs. Those could be some interesting tell-all books! Though I know most have to sign confidentiality agreements.

Megan on

“With Marcia a non-believer in homework, calling the task “BS,” assignments are often placed second on the family’s list of priorities.”

I don’t think that is the best approach to homework. Part of being a parent is teaching your kid “Hey, kiddo, sometimes we gotta work hard at the moment instead of fun & playtime.”

Jen on

She might want to rethink her phrasing of “balls are dropping all the time”…

michelle on

I like her take on the Clarinet. Daughter forgot it…she has to learn to be responsible.

brittany on

i admit i hate doin homework with my little brothers, but i wouldnt go as far as calling it BS. Homework is important because it teaches responsibility. priorities first, playtime second.

bre on

I never thought homework was necessary for every student. Some kids need that extra practice but it shouldn’t be demanded of everyone. There are other more useful ways to teach responsibility and good work ethic.

lily on

So she wants her child to be responsible, but doesn’t make her do her homework… what a mixed message to send.

Meesh on

I second the homework comments. Calling it “BS” is absurd. Some homework is good for kids, and if she thinks the load is too much, she should discuss it with the teacher or the PTO group or whatever they have. No doubt her comments will teach her child to not respect her teachers, and to not value education.

megan on

“but it shouldn’t be demanded of everyone”

Unfortunately, Bre, there is no way for teachers to know “Okay, Suzie seems to get this, no homework for her. But yes for Tommy.”

bre on

“Unfortunately, Bre, there is no way for teachers to know “Okay, Suzie seems to get this, no homework for her. But yes for Tommy.””

Why wouldn’t they know what their students get? Isn’t that the point of teaching?

megan on

What I meant is that there isn’t enough time & resources for most teachers to do that, unless they literally have only two or three students. Most teachers have several class periods, right ? Let’s say 25 different kids each class period, five or six times a day. I don’t think it’s fair to expect a teacher to look at 150 kids and dole out work with “okay, you, you and you can skip homework. You swear you totally understand everything so far. This group has to do the homework, though. That group over there can do this other work, since you don’t understand as well as group 1 but you also hate homework.”

Sara Bennett on

It’s nice to hear Marcia Gay Harden say that homework is “BS” and that it’s not a top priority in her household. Although the studies show little to no correlation between homework and academic achievement, most schools still pile it on. I wish more parents would follow Marcia Gay Harden’s lead, learn what the research says, and then make an informed decision about whether homework should interfere with family time, reading, sleep, sports, the arts, down time, or any of the other activities that families set aside so that their children can do school work. I suggest that all parents and educators read any of the numerous homework books, including mine, The Case Against Homework.