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Jennifer Garner: ‘Women Should Take Care of Each Other’

01/21/2010 at 06:00 PM ET
Jen Lowery/Startraks

She’s spoken openly about her love of homemade baby food and of her devotion to breastfeeding, but Jennifer Garner says she’ll never assume superiority over another mom.

In fact, the 37-year-old actress — mom to Violet Anne, 4, and Seraphina Rose Elizabeth, who just turned 1 — says that “women criticizing other women and mothers criticizing other mothers” is a disturbing trend she “can’t abide.”

“It just makes me crazy, whether it’s between staying at home, going to work, how long you breastfeed, if you use formula … I feel like we should just assume everyone is doing the best they can. Women should take care of each other, not tear each other down.”

She adds, “I would just like to see a mother who really believes that she has done it all so right, you know what I mean?”

One area Jennifer admittedly struggles is in her effort to balance career with the demands of a growing family. “I adore going to movie sets and being part of a team trying to create something,” she says, “and yet, I hate to miss even one bedtime with my girls.”

Noting that both her sisters are working mothers, Jennifer feels that although her profession is unique, the juggling act she experiences is anything but. She explains,

“I understand that my being an actress as well as being at home isn’t some heroic thing. That doesn’t mean it isn’t confusing or difficult — especially that question of how you find a balance.”

At the same time, she acknowledges that her celebrity status affords her “a lot of freedom,” for which she feels “privileged.”

Using her downtime to create “as warm and normal a life” as she can for Violet and Sera, Jennifer says she often draws upon her own upbringing in West Virginia, whether it’s packing a lunch or baking bread.

“It’s fun,” she insists. “It’s what my mother did; She made every meal.”

Click below to read about how Jennifer keeps her marriage to Ben Affleck alive.

Making time for husband Ben Affleck isn’t always as easy, she concedes, and the duo — married since 2005 — only recently enjoyed their first night away sans kids.

“You steal a date, you steal a kiss, you steal a whisper,” she reveals with a grin. “You sit next to each other on the couch with computers on your laps. After the kids are asleep you … well, you know.”

Jennifer’s new movie Valentine’s Day opens Feb. 12.

Source: PARADE

– Missy

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Showing 67 comments

Melanie on

Absolutely love her. This should be like the anthem at CBB…everyone should have to read through this before they want to leave a comment! haha

Laydacris on

so true and well said Jennifer. Many posters should take note on this site.

Megan on

“You sit next to each other on the couch with computers on your laps.”

I don’t see how that’s quality time together. But other than that, I like her and think she’s really down to earth.

Liliana on

She hit the nail on the head with her first statement. It seems to be a trend these days and it’s more than evident on this website when a person thinks she can parent better.

We all do what’s best for our children. That varies from person to person and it doesn’t make anyone right or wrong.

Lara on

Well said Jennifer!

Deadra on

I love Jen…so down to earth, and from I see seems to provide her kids with a very “normal”, loving household.

I do have to say though that if posters didn’t post their “opinions” of things…and that’s what they are “opinions”…whether it be parenting styles or whatever, then these comment sections would be incredibly boring. A little debate every now and then is very healthy and I see nothing wrong with it. Noone should be taking anything that’s written or said too seriously.

Jessicad on

Thank you Jennifer! It’s a horrible trend and it happens everyday on this site, we should all listen to her!

AE on

Agreed! Good for her for speaking up. Women criticizing each other plays into “divide and conquer.”

Angi on

I think Jennifer has a point. Women do find little ways to tear each other down. Concern and advice is one thing, but to think motherhood and child rearing is one size fits all is just not reality.

moose on

I personally think we need debate about parenting and I think its terrific that parents are exposed to new ideas about parenting on this website. For example, me hearing that some people thought it was great that a 3 yr old wore high heels was such a shock. But it made me think, “hmmm, am I over-reacting?” and while I am still no fan at least I was encouraged to stop and consider another position. So I disagree, attacking is bad but stating clearly and respectfully that you disagree about parenting issues is vital. Because people can and do get it wrong. And I would rather feel uncomfortable, consider the idea that I was wrong and then make change if I feel its necessary than not. But thats me.

em on

I love what she said and I totally agree with it. I think questions about whether a woman had a natural childbirth or used an epidural, whether a c-section was absolutely necessary, or how long a woman breastfeeds are just wrong. No one knows what is going on for that woman in her experience. All that should matter is that mother, fatherpartner and baby are happy and healthy. They way they get there is private and should not be subject to judgement.

Karla on

Couldn’t agree more with what Jennifer has said. While I agree that it’s good for mothers to try different things and what is right for one parent doesn’t it’s right for another, but women should not be criticised for these things and the choices they make. Whether a women chooses to breast feed or formula feed has nothing to do with me. Love Jennifer Garner, she’s a great role model and very real, genuine, decent person. Give each other a pat on the back and be encouraging rather than tearing each other down.

CC on

I agree with Jen 100%

While I agree debating (talking about) parenting styles in it’s self isn’t wrong, and can be helpful to get new ideas on how to do things. But there are other times, when it goes past debating and people are just being nasty to one another… I believe there is a difference in not agreeing with how someone does something and stating your opinion on that fact, and being just down right vindictive

Vanessa on

And that is yet another reason why I love this woman!

Lyn on

Yea! I absolutely believe women everywhere should support one another to the fullest…think of what a great world it would be! I think you can support one another and still have healthy talks about solutions-solving issues together for each other… just no bashing!

Karen on

I couldn’t agree with her more! Women do need to help each other! And encourage one another and not tear each other down. Well said. And I also like her value of creating a warm home life for her kids.

And, I see my hubby and I aren’t the only ones who sit together in the living room with our computers on our laps!

Mary-Helen on

normally I’m not a fan of Jennifer’s but I must admit she makes some great points here! Great interview!

umma on

i wasn’t a fan of the name seraphina at first but now i think it is so girly and pretty. luv it.

cassie on

awww that’s sweet..

taegan on

Good for her!

Now watch as she is torn apart by the opinionated ones, who know it all.

Lauren on

I love her :)

CelebBabyLover on

I can’t believe that Sera is one already! I just saw some very recent pictures of the family, and Sera is getting so big! I can’t tell who she looks like, but I guess she must look like Ben, because she doesn’t look much like Violet did at that age, and Violet has always been a spitting image of Jen! :)

Sarah M. on

I agree with her completely! There is a difference between a healthy debate and downright bashing others very rudely for not having the same opinion. I love debates and think that it’s a great way to find new solutions to problems that you might be having. There are ways to disagree with grace and agree to disagree, and there are ways to disagree by making others feel small. CBB has seemed to lean toward the latter of late. (This is all just my observation, of course. If others see it differently, then that’s perfectly fine.) :)

Sarah on

You can’t not love Jennifer Garner. She’s a sweet girl, who has remained down to earth and strives to give what’s best to her family. She doesn’t have to apologise for being blessed with a good career … she has to make sacrifices same as we all do, they are just different to ours.

{JeLisa} on

Awwww. This was great!

mrsh on

I’ve never been a big fan of her, but I love what she said here!

kkl on

I couldn’t agree more with Jen. I read another blog where the writer calls it mommy-shaming, the way we see mothers who can do no right when it comes to comments or even blogs themselves (unlike CBB). It’s not about shutting down discussion, it’s about starting from the place of people love their children and want to do right by them or starting from the place of everyone’s choices are wrong.

HeatherB on

This post is like a breath of fresh air!
I haven’t seen any recent photos of Seraphina, so I googled…she is a doll!

Diana on

Very well said! I agree with the comment that everyone should read this post before commenting on CBB it seems there always has to be at least one negative post every time; even if there is nothing to criticize someone finds a way.

Someone even found a way to criticize this post.

I understand that people want to express their opinions but when it is the same argument over and over again; what is the point? Everyone should breastfeed, baby wear, no pacifiers or bottles after a certain age, or strollers….. and NO c-sections (insert eye roll here) Did I miss anything?

And like she pointed out what mother can say she has done it all right; so how can you criticize unless you have always done everything perfectly.

sad on

what an awesome role model. she is fabulous

A on

If I ever have a baby, I want it to be an exact clone of Seraphina! She’s too cute for words!

Emaline on

What a refreshing interview! I look forward to reading the whole article this weekend.

Skye on

I completely agree! I hate all of this superiority that some mothers thing they have over others.Debate is healthy, but there is a time & place for it.At the end of the day , all parents are trying their best & love their children

emma on

On the whole she’s completely right. Of course, there are a small amount of mothers who don’t “do their best” but, thankfully, they are way in the minority. Good on you Jennifer!!

Jessicad on

I just had to comment on this again, she is quickly becoming my favorite celebrity. She’s gorgeous, smart, funny, and a great mommy and role model for women. She seems to have most of it figured out, and be ok with the things she doesn’t yet, love her!

Electra on

She’s pretty cool.

luciana on

She is so pretty and so sweet and down to earth. She is by far one of my favorite celebrity moms. I have seen a lot of pics of seraphina, she is a happy baby just like violet always is. seraphina is beautiful and she is all ben, while violet is cute and she is all jen.

HEATH on

THIS SHOULD DEFINITELY BE THE DISCLAIMER BEFORE YOU POST ON THIS SITE!!!!!

mimi on

I agree with moose above. I also agree that petty attacking does not serve any purpose. It’s great that she likes to make baby food. But why put someone down if they don’t or can’t. And certainly breastfeeding although beneficial, there are no ironclad rules. But there does need to be a national discussion on parenting because all of our lives intersect and it’s good to be aware of what we can do to always keep society bearable. Also it’s a great opportunity to share info. My problem with highheels on kids has more to do with health reasons. To me, they should not be worn everyday. But maybe a parent might not know this and with the info could at least split the difference. Sharing tips through discussion only enhances your child’s life. And certainly this is not to be coercive, just supportive.

Lily on

Women can be really cruel and mean to other women. Jennifer hit the nail on the head with that observance.

Brownsugar1313 on

On this site….good grief…sometimes I hope celebrities dont come here and see some of the stuff people write about them critisizing them without even knowing their lives.

So its good an actress can come out and say it!!!

In other words….”if you live in a glass house, dont throw stones!”

Linda on

I’m sure they do come on this site, therefore the comment she made.

fuzibuni on

I’m with Moose and Mimi on this one.
No need to be cruel to each other, but it’s so good to have dialogue.
I’ve learned a lot from reading the opinions of other people on this board… it’s informed me about things I wasn’t aware of and made me do further research about things I thought I already knew.
I appreciate the back and forth… as long as we don’t take things too personally it can be fun!

chewymama03 on

And this is why Jen is such a great woman! I live in a small rural community that has a fantastic school district, but there is a lot of “money” around here. Unfortunately, it has become a who’s house is bigger, who’s clothes are nicer and the thing that erks me the most is the group of moms that dominate every group around here, such as the PTA, all because they have money and don’t have to work. They never let the rest of us try.

It bothers me that every slip that comes home from this group of women has horrible spelling errors. They use computers. When I tried to VERY NICELY correct a form, I was slapped across the face. I also caught 2 of the moms egging my car. I mean, how adult like is that? And the community bake sale that recently happened at my daughter’s school was a failure. 5 of us working moms got together and baked all day on a Sunday and when we dropped off the goodies (and they were awesome!), the moms threw them in the trash can in front of us. It makes me want to home school my children. And it makes me want to move.

Thanks for listening as I needed to vent to some mature moms out there that can understand! ALL YOU KICK BUTT MOMS OUT THERE…YOU ROCK!!! To the rest of you that think you are better than the rest of us, YOU GET WHAT YOU GIVE IN LIFE. Remember that the next time you cutting down someone else.

Ann on

I love how Jen acknowledges the fact that she is privileged. Many moms don’t. For example, I think everyone knows that Angelina Joilie, Gwen Stefani and many other celebrity moms, have enough help (nannies, personal chefs, personal assistants) to stay functional and keep their sanity. I loath the celebrity moms who make it sound as if they are truly performing a difficult balancing act when in-fact that they have help through all this so called juggling of motherhood and acting. Thanks Jen for keeping your life real and make every mom feel normal because you are not pretending to be superior like other celebrity moms do when making statements about motherhood.

Alee on

Would Jen consider it “quality time” with her daughters if she sat on the couch with her computer while her kids played on the floor? Also, I’m not sure I like the language of having to “steal” a kiss with your hubby just because you have kids around.

Kaycee on

I love you Jen! My hubby and I sit on the couch at night with our laptops working, while our kids are in the room playing. If I have to work, I’d rather it be in the same room with my kids than locking myself in my office. Can’t spend “quality” time with the kids every waking moment, there are bills to be paid!

ellen on

It’s a free world. People are allowed to have opinions, and it’s helpful and raises personal awareness to have an idea of what others’ perspectives are…sometimes that even helps you solidify your own reasonings. It’s the UNINFORMED opinions and assumptions that are ridiculous. For instance, the judgments people make here, about celebrities’ whole lives and how they treat, feed and dress their children, based on 1 photo of them, every few months.

katie on

but dudes, come on, if there is no cattiness and drama what’s the POINT??

more seriously, i think this is very sweet and all but a little silly. we all judge each other in every aspect of our lives… why is motherhood any different? i think what she means to say is that all mothers should offer their views, critique etc with humility (because ultimately none of us really know what the outcome of our various choices is going to be) and respect (because all of us know how damn hard it is).

but stop judging? more likely to stop breathing.

K on

Man, I get so tired of multi millionaire Hollywood celebs portraying themselves as “normal” mothers!!!! I don’t care how nice or wholesome you are, you do NOT go through the same struggles as the average parent. The average parent does not have nannies, fancy homes and cars and more money than they’ll ever need. The average parent doesn’t get nights off to go to fancy awards shows and a trainer, stylist and a cook so they can look fantastic. As nice as some can seem, they have no clue! Give them a few years of struggling financially, having to cook all the meals, do all the shopping, clean behind the toilets and then I’ll take them a little more seriously! (And I don’t care how much their own parents’ struggled when they were kids, it is not the same as struggling as a parent yourself!) Yes, no parent has done it all right, and money doesn’t buy happiness, but not having money coming out your ears puts things in a little more perspective.

K on

In other words, to quote Ray Romano, take your struggle to remain balance and “go cry about it on your stacks and stacks of money!”

Susie on

Too bad more women don’t have Jennifer’s wisdom. In this country there is a whole lot of lip service paid to the wondrous bond of women’s friendships, yet I have never found that to be true. More often than not I find that men are more supportive and trustworthy than other women. I would love to have a friend like Jennifer!!

Diana on

K – If you hate celebrities so much why are you even on this site. Talk about bitter!

Terri on

I think it’s great when women are supportive of each other. I also think it’s great when we can healthy discussions and debates.

I always enjoy Jennifer’s interviews.

CelebBabyLover on

Diana- I agree! I also want to add to what you said that Jennifer even pointed out that she IS priveledged, and that her job DOES afford her a lot of freedom. She’s not trying to pretend that she does it all on her own!

Also, if Jennifer had talked about how easy motherhood was, I’ll bet people would have complained that she was painting an unrealistic picture of motherhood! Honestly, Jennifer was spot on with what she said. Women really can be some of the nastiest creatures on Earth sometimes (and I say this as a woman myself!)!

Diana on

CelebBabyLover -Its just clear to me if you find something wrong with this article then you are just looking for stuff to criticize! And you are exactly right she specifically admits that she is privileged. So to rant and rave about celebrities about how they have everything and don’t understand just seems like it is coming out of nowhere! Some people will ALWAYS find something to complain about.

And after an article where to me Jen is defending all mothers and how we should all give each other a break; which is so true we are constantly cutting each other down when we should be supporting one another!

K on

Although I did not intend to offend and was just aggravated at some elements of the article – I bet that some will agree that in most articles about Jennifer Garner since she had kids, she is made out to be very “ideal”, especially as a mom (whether this is by her intention or that of the writers I can not ascertain). Read the Parade article from yesterday’s paper and see how she describes herself, the “model” middle child, patient, nice, takes care of everyone, etc. and takes it’s title from her “balance” issue. At some point, I would think even she herself would get tired of being viewed like this, and it certainly invites scrutiny, especially when it comes from her own words. As an average person who enjoys reading about movies, celeb fashions, etcetera, I feel that it becomes almost comical how wealthy celebs talk like they identify with the struggles of the average person, such as finding balance, especially in times such as these economically. Our society puts them up as ideals and I simply think it is an impossible standard for the regular parent to relate to in any sense. I appreciate those such as Sarah Jessica Parker who have explicitly pointed out this fact. Celeb moms advertise themselves as regular moms unrealistically and then the rest of us who don’t always have the time to, say, bake homemade bread, get to think, oh not only are they beautiful and rich, but also Martha Stewart-esque and so nice, is she really that nice? C’mon! How about an article that shows how much help they actually get with nannies, personal chefs, trainers, stylists? It would just seem a bit more balanced, instead of just a passing reference to not being “heroic”. There are ways of making moms feel less than adequate other than just direct criticism (as spoken of above) – which I am not attributing to this article particularly, but certainly to the portrayal of some celeb moms, such as Jen Garner.

K on

I get what K’s saying, let me try to put it in a less aggravated tone. Here Ms. Garner is saying we should not be critical of other moms, which is fine and good. However, part of finding fault in someone/ them not being perfect is in comparing them to an ideal, which is a societal thing. This ideal is something that people in the public eye contribute to, such as Ms. Garner, whether it be directly or indirectly. Therefore, she is talking about something she may not realize she actually has a part in or influence upon….and this may frustrate some persons who feel that this image is unattainable.

K on

Exactly, Dawn! Thank you :) I was aggravated and couldn’t clearly express what I was feeling, but that is it. I apologize for the negative tone, but as an exhausted mom and wife, sometimes it gets the better or me.

K on

I didn’t mean to sound like a split personality there in the comments, my sis was commenting with me on here :) (and is a little more eloquent than I).

moose on

K I agree. Totally….all her PR spin is pretty much relentlessly painting her as a picture perfect mother.

sarah on

i think that regardless of the fact she is a celebrity she is right. many times moms get caught up in the competition of it all and forget that we really need each other for support. i am involved in a play group with my son and there are a wide range of moms and parenting styles there. many weeks i leave shaking my head over something i heard that i don’t really agree with or would not consider doing with my kids. but that is their style and it’s their family. other weeks i leave having been greatly encouraged by these women i am blessed to call friends. if i did not spend time with them just because we are different i would really be missing out. so it makes sense to work together as much as possible. it is good for all of us.

Catey on

I’m not even going to touch this one!

I will say though, I loved the comment about her and Ben with their laptops. My hubby often brings work home with him and waits until the kids go to bed to do it. We often sit on the couch together while he works and while we aren’t talking, it is just nice to be close and share a kiss while a page is loading or something.

sashasgirl on

It is funny to read all of these comments. Sometimes I think that many of these comments show that we are too busy writing about our opions to just get it. This article is nice. I work with my husband with his handyman business and still do homemade food quite often. I have 6 kids, so this is no small feat. Not all celebrities have as much help as you might think. They may not be able to understand our economic struggles, but they still have struggles of a different kind. We don’t all have the same struggles and we don’t all understand each others struggles. We do relate that no matter the struggle, we all need the same family bonds and working together despite our differences and opinions is exactly what we all need. Some of these celebrity Moms probably wish theywere more normal, especially when it comes to their kids. We have the same feelings, only in the opposite direction. Besides, Normal is also a matter of opinion. We are not all the same, so whose to say wich one of us is normal?

G's mom on

I think this was a very nice post by Jennifer Garner. I think she’s totally right in the fact that C-section vs natural birth and breastfeeding vs formula are intensly personal choices and sometimes difficult decisions that every mother has to make. And sometimes those decisions are taken out of her hands. Why should we be critized by each other if one wants to breastfeed but another wants to formula feed? What if a mother CAN’T breastfeed because her child can’t tolerate the lactose?? What does it matter HOW a baby is born into this world, as long as they are?!?! (sometimes due to size or position, the baby CAN NOT come out on their own!)
I think mothers should compare notes and debate the big stuff – the discipline, the work/life balance, finding enough time to actually have “quality time” with our kids… because these conversations are what make us better moms. They cause us to think about our own positions and to consider differing view points. There is NO reason to be catty to each other just because we don’t agree.
After all, NO ONE has done ALL of it right. There are always learning and growing opportunities. And the best any of us can do is to make educated decisions about what is right for our own families.

CelebBabyLover on

sashasgirl- Beautifully said!

Franny on

Wow. SO TRUE. I didn’t know Jen was such a great person! Bravo.

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