Naomi Watts: ‘I Wouldn’t Have Been Focused’ as a Young Mom

09/26/2011 at 04:00 PM ET
Courtesy More

Naomi Watts always knew she wanted to be a mother. What she didn’t realize, however, is that it would come much later in life than she had anticipated.

“I had a lot I wanted to do when I was younger, and perhaps I wouldn’t have been as focused,” the actress tells More‘s October issue. “I got a lot out of the way in terms of my own dreams.”

According to Watts, waiting to welcome sons Sasha, 4, and Kai, 2½ — her children with actor Liev Schreiber — in her late 30s proved to be for the better.

“You grow up and hopefully become more self-aware. I think I’m a better parent,” she says.

Equally as dedicated to the boys is Schreiber, who tends to focus on the fun side of fatherhood.

“Liev’s moments with the children are amazing. The games just go on and on,” Watts shares. “I’ve always said that men are great in the moment, but not good in the planning, like, ‘Is there milk in the fridge?’ and ‘Do we have diapers?'”

Having grown up without her own father, Watts’ childhood memories resonate in her dreams of her family’s future.

“Not knowing my father always made me feel like a piece of me was missing or unknown,” she reveals.

“I want [my sons] to feel connected to me and me to them. I want them, above all, to feel sure of who they are. That they are safe in the world. And, of course, connected. To their parents, their friends, their family, the world and themselves.”

Watts adds, “This is the most important goal in my life. Everything else is gravy.”

— Anya Leon

FILED UNDER: News , Parenting

Share this story:

Your reaction:

Add A Comment reserves the right to remove comments at their discretion.

Showing 53 comments

ladyinred on

“You grow up and hopefully become more self-aware. I think I’m a better parent,” she says.

I hate when parents who had children later in life talk as if they are better parents just because they are older and believe they are “more mature.” I was married by 21, graduated with my bachelors in nursing at 23, and also had our 1st child at 23.

My children have a great life and I LOVE being a parent in my 20’s. I don’t feel I had a give up my dreams to have them in my early 20’s. My children were my dreams!

Salma Hayek has also made statements about being a better parents because she’s like 45. Their comments just annoy me.

Lauren on

ladyinred, I think naomi is speaking about herself personally, it’s not an attack to all young parents. You sound like you have a lot on your plate at such a young age, and many people our age like myself (I am also 23) would not be able to handle such responsibility of marriage and kids and a job.

Im speaking for myself, but I feel like I’ve just begun to grow up now that im fresh out of college, I don’t see myself having kids til im 30!

Anonymous on

ladyinred: I think she’s speaking for herself. Don’t be so quick to take offense to comments that aren’t directed at you

bellespooh on

I’m actually very glad I had kids later in life. I got a chance to travel the world and do so much. My kids are my life now.

Marcie on

ladyinred….their comments are based on their own personal experiences, not yours.

Amy on

I feel I’m a better parent now, at 42, than I would have been at 22. I’m more confident, more established, and more mature. I am speaking for how I feel about me and my life, just like Naomi Watts and Salma Hayek are. And I realize that doesn’t apply to everyone else.

People who can’t respect that other peoples experiences and feelings are different than theirs are what annoy me.

K on

I think Naomi was speaking from a personal point of view. At 24, I am far from ready for children. Though I’m married, I’m not ready to give up my Friday nights and Saturday mornings. I want to do some more traveling abroad. And I want to spend some time on my career.

However, I know that this isn’t true for everyone. And it certainly doesn’t mean that I will wait until I’m in my mid-thirties to have children. My cousin had two kids by 23, and was clearly born to be a mom. Every parent is different.

meghan on

She’s talking about herself, not you, ladyinred. Why do younger parents always take the comments of older parents so personally?

mommylove on

I am a young mother, and that works for me, but it might not have worked for her. There is nothing wrong with her stating her personal opinion. She didn’t say anything negative about young mothers or young parents. People take EVERYTHING so personal these days!

River on

Did we read the same article, ladyinred? You clearly have strong insecurities you need to deal with. Don’t take your anger out on Naomi Watts, she didn’t say anything offensive. She was speaking from personal experience, and she was only addressing how SHE felt about HERSELF. She clearly said SHE thinks she would have lacked focus as a young mother. She did not mention anywhere that she thinks other or all young mother lack focus.

From your comment, it sounds like you are projecting because deep down you feel you are not as competent as you would have been as an older mother. That, or you have received some negative feedback as a young mother in the past, so you automatically expect everyone to be against you.

Anon on

Any parents always take the comments of any other parents personally 🙂 And people always like to justify the choices they’ve made. Luckily I can’t take offense either way because I had kids in my early 20s AND in my late 30s 🙂 I was a much more fun mum in my 20s, we had a blast, but I was more irresponsible (and broke). But now I’m a much more tired mum, an ‘I think I’ll just sit here and watch you play for a bit’ mum, even though I’m much more thoughtful and considered in my parenting and financially secure now.

If I had to choose, I’d say have kids younger. That whole ‘career’ thing actually works better if you have kids first, THEN get your career going. Otherwise you’ll just be getting somewhere and you’ll have to stop at 30 or 35 or whatever and have a break in the middle of your career, and it’s really hard finding child-friendly roles mid-career. Have kids first while you’re on the bottom rung, because then there’s no pressure. Plus, women’s bodies are ‘meant’ to have kids in their 20s. Your fertility drops drastically mid-30s and the risks of disorders and complications shoots sky-high …

Y on

I agree with you completely ladyinred

sara on

Why do people always think everything is about them? She’s obviously talking about herself. She’s more mature now than SHE was when she was younger.

me on

In response to Anon’s comment, not all older moms are too tired to play with their young children, that might have to do with the individual’s fitness level. As a 37 yo mom of a 19 month old I have plenty of energy to keep up with a very active boy!

lindsey on

I think we all have different opinions on when we should have kids i just think who ever feels having kids and their 30s should go ahead but in the end we all are equal.

Lauren on

Gotta agree with ladyinred. There’s often an implied judgment that younger people are less mature (even though she’s technically only talking about herself). It goes both ways, with plenty of younger parents doing the “I have more energy” thing.

People who feel the need to justify themselves constantly (I’m not talking about ladyinred, but rather the celebs who say things like this) are typically feeling insecure or attacked…

Anon on

Good for you, ‘me’. I still keep up (well, mostly) with mine in my early 40s, but because I became a parent at 23 as well, I know I dealt better with sleepless nights and lots of running around then than I do now … I also think 40 year olds who’ve lived their whole lives their own way are less flexible parents than 20 year olds who can go with the flow and actually remember what it’s like to be a kid. Again, a generalisation, I know!

But the point I was trying to make is that every situation has pluses and minuses. There is no right or wrong age – they all have bonuses and drawbacks IMO

Cyn on

Ladyinred “Your comment annoys me”.

Why take HER personal experiences and decision so very, very personally? It’s beyond ridiculous. The fact is those were two different statements.

It’s true. As you get older, you DO become more self-aware and you do grow up. She THEN said “I think I’m a better parent”.

She did NOT say “I think WE become better parents…”

Get over yourself. Once again, the world does not revolve around YOU and YOUR children.

nina on

i feel the same..does this make me a bad person? no..some people feel they arent ready for chidren..others do..its all about choice..

gia on

I think it’s great that people can be parents at all ages – however, I do think Hollywood paints and unrealistic image of older parenthood/pregnancy. I have no doubts that older parenting works awesome for Watts and lots of others but – it’s hard to get pregnant older. Hollywood makes it seem like waiting till 40 to have a baby will work for anyone who wants to do it – it won’t.

Also, lets be honest here: many women waited to have babies because they (perhaps correctly) realized the importance of their maintaining their bodies early on. Now that everyones all baby crazy getting pregnant younger is a great PR move (and also I realize people want babies too, but now it fits in an early career better than it used to)

Capri on

I think and will always believe that not everyone has the same experiences in life. I would probably agree with “Naomi” about not being ready or self-aware in the 20’s because I can relate to her issue. I couldn’t imagine raising a child in my 20’s when I still had a lot to learn myself. I am 31, single and still in grad school—–and still cant afford to raise a child!

Not everybody has the same life plans; I guess it may very well be in God’s plan when we are meant to have children. So, maybe in my teens I dreamed of having kids in my 20s, but I eventually learned that it was OK that I didn’t because I was never really ready.

Lady Modesty on

Going to agree with “ladyinred” as well.

And with Lauren’s comment too: “There’s often an implied judgment that younger people are less mature (even though she’s technically only talking about herself).”

And that is not to say anything against older mothers because I’m both. I was a younger mother (19 with my oldest) and older mother (37 with my youngest). However, the celebrities DO come across in their comments (of themselves) as if having a child when you are older is the “smarter” and “more mature” way of doing it. And the insinuation comes across as the rest of us young mothers are “dumb” and “less mature” even though it’s not said out loud. I mean seriously, how often do you hear (or read about) any of them saying:

“I’m having my baby now at 22 years old because I feel I’m smarter and more mature.” Coud you imagine? Had to chuckle out loud with that one. 😉

Also, when I hit 30 I had already had six children and so one of my childhood friends asked me, “Don’t you feel like you missed out in things because you had children so young?” And I honestly answered, “no.” I look back now that I’m almost 40 and remember my 20’s as being some of the best years of my life. My husband and I had a fantastic time, loved our marriage and our children. I wouldn’t change any of it.

To each his/her own but I’m still waiting for that celebrity quote. 😉

Marie on

I also think I am a way better parent in my 40’s than I would have been in my 20’s.

I understand what she is saying.

torgster on

What annoys me is the inference that you “have” to wait until you’re older to have kids if you don’t want to give up any sense of self and your own life. Women have been getting pregnant since the dawn of time, but now they’re “starting a family”. What used to just be be raising a kid now requires “parenting” and your world has to revolve around only that. Nonsense.

I had mine at 23 and 30, and didn’t agonize over gee should or shouldn’t I? We still had a nightlife, thanks to the local teens who loved to babysit and my kids loved being babysat. We still had our mornings, as my kids learned the household wasn’t jumping to attention at 6 am for no good reason – they learned to entertain themselves for awhile or go back to sleep.

I could go on and on but probably no point. Despite them both growing up into wonderful adults, I’m sure most of today’s parents would consider me unfit. Yeesh. It’s nothing to do with age.

Reese on

Naomi is speaking on behalf of her own experience with motherhood. Taking offense to it is ridiculous and only makes one look insecure. If you were prepared to parent in your 20s, good for you. If you weren’t ready until your 40s, that’s great too. There’s no “right” or “wrong” age when it comes to parenthood.

KPR on

I agree completely with Anon. Well said!

However … being 29 … I feel like I am right in the middle. I have my own business but am married to a man who is 37 and still live the perks of “the older” lifestyle … ie; established careers, stable foundation, house, cars, no debt, not broke, etc.

What I DO think ladyinred was right about it … EVERYONE takes offense … and it could EASILY be turned around on you “older ladies”. For instance …. a younger celebrity parent could say something like “I am so glad that I had my child young. I was more willing to “give” to my child because I wasn’t so set in my ways and the medical research DOES say that my child has a better chance of being healthy if I start earlier so I am glad I made that sacrifice for the good of my family instead of waiting so long to do things that FOR ME are more about “me” than my “child”.

Ok … older mommas …. how does THAT feel? You would be a BIT offended although all of those statements could be considered “true to the mother and you shouldn’t take it personally” … walk in the other person’s shoes … is all I am saying.

Marky on

I had 3 children between the month I turned 24 and the month I turned 28. I loved those children and my husband very much, but the truth is, that while I ran and jumped and had a great time with my whole family and loved them beyond words, the truth is that no one knows the future and my hopes of later having a career in the field I was educated in were thrown under the bus by the fact I had a special needs child, and when those 3 got old enough for me to think of going to work (which by that time meant going to school again), there was another child when I was 38.

I love all my children and I had a great time with all of them, I am still married to their father who I love, BUT I never got to have the job I wanted to, and when the older ones went to college, I couldn’t work to help pay their tuition, so their choices were somewhat limited as to which schools they attended (or else they could have graduated with years of debt ahead of them!)

I don’t mean I regret my family, but had I to do it over, I would have worked for 8 years or so, made certain that my husband and I had some time together traveling and just enjoying each other, then had our children.

What I did not imagine was that he would become disabled in his early 50’s from multiple strokes, and those days would never be had “later”. We could have done everything with our children later, but the things we hoped to do, just the 2 of us, couldn’t be done under those circumstances.

Sometimes that’s what we don’t think of when making decisions about how we will live our lives, and those decisions affect everyone in the family. We didn’t have a terrible life, any of us, but there are things we wouldn’t have missed had we made different decisions.

It really is an individual choice, and what works amazingly well for one, doesn’t work at all for others. It’s just not okay to be so critical of what others choose, or what they say about it

jessicad on

Everyone is different, some women may feel ready at a younger age while others don’t, nothing wrong with what she said.

Personally, I wish my mother had waited before having us, she started at 19 with my sister then my brother and I weren’t too far behind. From age 6 I heard about how it was time for her to “live her own life” or “be selfish” because she didn’t get to do what she wanted and we held her back.

Don’t have kids so young if you’re going to resent them. Obviously I still have issues here:)

Sarah K. on

Lauren, Lady, etc. – an implied judgment? Why do so many people on here try to be offended by comments that have nothing to do with them?

Naomi was so clearly talking about her personal experience. Not everything she says has hidden meaning so she can secretly insult all of the young mothers out there.

Michelle on

My mom was young when she had me and it was great beause we were so close, but now that I am older and look back on it – she WAS fun, but she WASN’T a very good parent. She was very selfish and very immature.

And it took me well into my 30s to realize that. I love my mom with everything I am, but she is the reason I waited. I wanted to do it differently. Not to say that different is better, but I didn’t want to be the parent she was.

It’s not so much about when you choose to have children. There are so many younger women who are far wiser and more mature than their peers in the same age group, but the truth is, most are not. The bummer is that you won’t realize it until you get older. There is no crystal ball.

The only thing we can do is make what we feel are the best choices at the time we make them and then live up to those choises.

The worst thing a woman could ever do is criticize another woman for her choices.

annachestnut on

Having kids late works well only if you have mega bucks like Naomi and Selma. I had my children late. One is in college now and one is about to go to college. With the economy as it is, having this huge financial responsibility heaped upon trying to prepare for retirement is stressful and dangerous.

I say have your kids in your 20s, as biology dictates and work your career around them.

Holiday on

I am so glad I had my kids at 22 and 26. Older celeb moms and even old non celeb moms love to rub it in how its a more mature thing to do to have kids later and how they could never have a kid so young. However when a young celeb mom talks she never says “I am so glad I wasnt an old mom, I could never keep up with kids in my 40s, it is so much better to have kids young”

sara on

Why do so many people here think the comment section an invitation to tell us your personal stories? Whether you’re offended by what she wrote, or if you agree with her fully, this post is about Naomi Watts. NOT YOU.

Reese on

Holiday, that’s because so many reporters ask older mothers these questions. Of course they’re going to defend their decisions considering it’s no one’s business when they choose to procreate.

Cassie on

Ditto everyone that says “to each their own”. This is an article based on her own experience – not every mother in the world. What part of that are people missing!?

Of course she is speaking form her experience – it would look rather odd of her to claim something that was completely opposite or non related to her situation. No? You would all be the first to absah her for that. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

If you are happy with your choice of being young or older – that’s all that matters. But constantly needing to jusstify and defend it – when the story in question has nothing to do with you just seems so strange to me. If you aren’t happy with what you chose for your life you have no one to blame but yourself.

Dee on

All my friends were having babies in high school and college, I was busy graduating, hanging out with my friends, travelling and doing whatever the heck I wanted to do anytime I wanted to without restrictions.

I could have had a couple of kids in my 20’s and I’m pretty sure I would have made the sacrafice and be a good mother but I am happy I waited until 31 to take that journey. My son was born last year and I am ahead financially, own my own home, vehicle and have a steady paycheque in which I can take care of my child and in a stable relationship with his father where we can both be there for him.

Not to say I never had stable relationships in my 20’s but its the first I was with someone with whom I wanted to have kids or saw a future with outside of just having a good time so I completely understand where Naomi is coming from.

I feel more centered and self assured, I feel more mature and more capable and I feel like this was the right time for me personally. Cant speak for anyone else.

K on

Sara – I think this is a great place and opportunity for us to get advice from one another.

Marky – Thank you for sharing. It was heartfelt and I took some mental notes.

B.J. on

At 27, I am so grateful to be child-free at this point in my life. I spent the summer living in Yosemite, something I would not have been able to do if I had a spouse or kids. I feel totally free. I can literally do anything I want with my life… I can move, I can start my own business, I can travel the world.

I love kids, but I see them as being very limiting. Then again, I know I’ll be heartbroken if I never end up having them down the line. To each their own.

Sara on

Well said ladyinred. I’m often alarmed at why old mothers feel the need to justify their choices – and in the process put down young mothers. I have lost track how many celebs have made this point, forgetting of course that if they had had kids twenty years earlier they would have snapped out of their self-centered hedonistic lifestyles into mature young women.

Brandi on

I feel like I constantly hear moms discussing this topic and it always seems like both sides try to prove their decision was the best. I think having a child later in life has it’s obvious perks, as does having the child younger.

I was 22 when I had my daughter. I graduated college while pregnant and went on to get a wonderful job working for the Department of Defense so fortunately being a young mother didn’t interfere with my career plans and I became financially stable early in my adult life.

Now, would I have been able to travel more had I decided to wait? Sure. Did I “miss out” on some things people do in their 20’s? Yep. Should I have spent a few years saving before having a family? Probably. But I knew the second I learned I was going to be a mom that those things paled in comparison to the love I already felt for my child.

Instead of thinking about all of the things I didn’t get to do, I saw it as now I have someone to share all of those experiences with. I do not think it is about what age you have your child, but focusing on the good things that come from your decision to have the child at the age you have them.

If you are truly happy with how things have turned out for you and what type of parent you are, you will be content without feeling the need to be defensive when someone else expresses their parenting choices. Take good care of your babies, raise them right and be the best mother you possibly can be, if you do all of that, the minor details are just that, minor. 🙂

Jillian on

I myself am a younger mom of four. I see it go both ways on here and that is something I never understand. I don’t get why people have to try and show how their life is better or prove they did things right. Everyone’s life is different and just be proud of what you and your family are doing.

I see plenty of young moms going on and on about how they could never keep up with having children at 40, how moms are selfish for waiting til 40 and having their career first and so on. I see plenty of non older moms going on and on about how younger moms aren’t educated or responsile or mature.

I personally found nothing wrong with what Naomi said or when anyone speaks about themselves. When someone generalizes about young mothers or older mothers, I think that is wrong.

If you are proud and happy about your choices you dont need to bash or insult others and bring negativity into the equation.

Signed, Not Jillian

Maggie on

Like anything else, there are pros and cons. I ended up having kids at 22, 26 and 34 and I can tell you, my pregnancy at 22 was a BREEZE compared to 34. And being somewhat younger made it easier to play tag with them on the play structures! 🙂 That said, hubby and I are not as ahead financially as we could be and we definitely missed out on typical “fun” stuff like travelling, etc. Oh well.

Heather on

I get what ladyinred is saying… I wanted to be done with having kids by the age of 30 – had my oldest at 25 and youngest at 27. I have two university degrees, an awesome career, a well educated husband, an awesome life. I couldn’t imagine waiting until I’m in my late 30s to start a family. My kids will be out of the house (hopefully 😉 ) by the time I’m 45! Plenty of time then to relax, work for myself, travel etc.

In fact that’s the only thing I think I missed out on by having kids young – travelling. We still travel, but not like we would have if we had waited. Luckily we make enough money to provide a great life for our children and ourselves now. To each their own, but I wouldn’t trade my life for anything!

JMO on

Why are there always young mothers who are the first to put out their claws when someone makes a comment about being an older parent and how it was better for them?? Because that right there shows the difference in maturity levels between someone who is 25 and someone who is 45 – just saying.

Piper on

JMO- Oh please! If maturity is really base on the person. I know a lot of people in their 20s who are more mature and responsible then some people in their 40s.

Also, if the article was about a young mom saying that, older moms would be pointing out how being an older mother worked great for them. We both know that.

Cassie on

JMO you are completely right. Nearly all of the “young mom” crowd were immediately on the defense and taking this story for something it wasn’t – about bashing young moms.

Honestly, why get so insecure about it? Why do you care so much of what someone else says anyway (had she actually attacked young moms)?

Get some self esteem and show your children that it’s okay for others to have differing opinions for their life experiences. Gain your composure and try to be these mature ladies you so vehemently are trying to convince strangers on a comment section that you are.

Holiday on

I just know I was always told that 21 was too young to have a baby and I would regret it later and so on. I am defensive about having kids young because old moms love to point out how much better it is to wait. The truth is they have no idea since all they know is being an old mom. I LOVE being a young 27 year old stylish, fun, mature and loving mom to my almost 6 year old son and 16 month old daughter.

TJ on

Why are so many of you so defensive and insecure? You can’t even handle someone talking about her own situation at 20, 30, or 40 without taking it personally, but “you’re a great mom”. Really? I don’t think so!

JMO on

Piper I’m 28. I know plenty of people (and mothers) in their 20’s and most of them are the first one’s to get defensive over EVERYTHING!

lovely123 on

Ladyinred, obviously you have deep seeded issues with being a young parent. Your post reflects the loss you feel. I am curious to know IF you are even still married with such a negative attitude. Older parents are better financially and mindful of their decisions. Young parent are still trying to figure out their own lives no less a little one’s.

lovely123 on

Oh, let me add my mother was very young when she had my sister and me. She was also VERY young when she had her first and second divorce. I as a CHILD learned very early what I wanted in life when it came to marriage and kids. It was hard for my mother as a young parent, and I am sure things have not gotten any easier.

lovely123 on

Lastly my mother was young and she passed away young. You never know what is going to happen in life.

lovely123 on

If young moms are “so happy” why do they always seem to think they have to defend themselves for having kids young?