Reese Witherspoon Feels Unprepared for Ava to Become a Teen

02/29/2012 at 02:00 PM ET
Michael Williams/Startraks

Reese Witherspoon may be accustomed to researching her on-screen characters, but there’s one role she admits to feeling unprepared for — being the mother of a teenager.

The Oscar winner, 35, tells Britain’s TV show Daybreak that she’s feeling apprehensive about her daughter Ava Elizabeth‘s upcoming 13th birthday, in September.

“I don’t know anything about teenagers, so I’m on a big learning curve here,” the This Means War star says.

“This is the time where I start asking all my friends who have kids who are older, ‘What do you do about a cell phone? What are your rules about the computer? Is she allowed to go out with friends or is she not?’ So I learn a lot from other mothers.”

Also growing up fast is Witherspoon’s son Deacon Reese, 8, her second child with ex-husband Ryan Phillippe.

“It’s great to have older children,” she says. “There’s a little sadness as they’re growing up and walking away from you, but it kind of changes the whole dynamic. We have really funny dinner conversations now, and they know more about certain topics than I ever, ever knew.”

For instance, when it comes to Ava, “I can’t keep up with her homework anymore,” explains Witherspoon. “My daughter will ask me something about famous composers, and I have no idea what she’s talking about. So that’s kind of nice. It’s like I’m learning from them.”

Having married agent Jim Toth nearly a year ago, Witherspoon hasn’t mentioned plans to have more children, but did say, “I like babies too. I hug all my girlfriends’ babies. They’re all so stinking cute!”

— Liz Raftery

FILED UNDER: News , Parenting

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Showing 87 comments

Mina on

Glad to know I am not the only one who doesn’t understand her kids homework lol. And mine is only 9 years old and in third grade.

Of course, its the math…fractions and grouping and charts. It takes me longer to re-read the directions and “get it” (again). Sometimes there arent directions and I have to trust that he remembers what he learned because the teachers do it a certain way. When he gets older, I fear I will useless to him lol.

Michele on

I’m with you Mina, literally, I have a 9 year old in 3rd grade and I can hardly keep up with her and her math…

Jamie on

wow can u tell thats her daughter or what!! lol

Ashley Hornsby on

Wow it is hard for me to believe that Reese’s daughter Ava is going to be turning 13 this september. Reese is one of my favorite actresses, and in my opinion her daughter is just as pretty as her mom is and looks just like her.

Jane on

I raised 4 kids…2 of them girls…and I don’t envy anyone doing so today. Life is so much more complicated and the world is far more dangerous than it was in the 60’s when mine were growing up.

I guess the best advice I can offer is love them, be honest with them, know who their friends are, where they are going and tell them what time they have t be home. Have an abundance of patience and understanding and set rules that you believe are fair and then stick to them. Consistency is probably the best tool any parent can utilize.

Lastly, enjoy these teenage years because they too pass far too quickly.

Lucy NYC on

She is a little Reece! lol.

I understand how everyone is feeling. My daughter is 10 in the 5th grade and when I check her homework (particually math), I have to go to YouTube for “How To” videos. Yikes…

Chantelle on

I have a 10 year old and I now literally feel as though I’ve returned to the 5th grade. It’s cool though, refreshing in a strange sort of way..

Jen Weaver on

I am a mother of 3 children, 13, 10 and 8. The 13 year old is hard to deal with and the school work I understand it isn’t what it was when I went to school.

Hanging with friends I have tried that not such a good thing they are growing girls and have such great innocence unlike the boys do. I am terrified of the years to come. My daughter is a good kid but I had to take her cell phone from her due to the boys asking questions they shouldn’t.

All I can say is pray like I do. Good luck and my prayers are with us mom’s with teenagers.

boohoobytch on

she’s adorable

*Sec* on

@homework** tell me about it, got 2 middle schoolers in advance classes.. i was a strong C student now helping honor roll kids… i have to read that chapters and study guides just to know what the heck is going on 😦 its worth it, they are worth it.

Yummy on

Being the mom to 1 teenage and 2 early 20’s daughters my best advice is keep this close to you. don’t lie and that will build a trust and mutual respect that will last forever. i still have it with my own mom.

deanna on

Both mom and daughter are cuties. Reese obviously has her family well grounded and I am sure Ava will test her as all teenager do, but will turn out fine (unklike so many celebrities kids).


Doesn’t understand kids homework….Did you go to school yourself??

DeaubryGorham on

Of course, you can tell that Ava is Reese’s daughter. She inherited that hideous, freak chin! Since Reese went through the trouble they say she did of persuading Reese’s doctor to give her growth hormone, so she wouldn’t be a fat little hamster like Reese, you’d think Reese would have taken Ava to see a plastic surgeon.

Too bad Ava doesn’t look like Ryan. In the looks depart Reese is extremely short, 4’11, and goofy in the face. I know her height because my friend had to fit her on one of her sets. She was stunned to find that Reese was below 5 ft. Reese gives her height as 5’3. No way. Thanks to the years of growth hormone, Ava is not short. Though she exposed her to side effects, but that chinny chin chin. Ava will never be beautiful with that horrifying chin.

grandma of 9 on

Reese, good luck and the best advise I can give you is keep the lines of communication open. I totally agree with Jane, consistency is very important . . . also don’t try to be their friend, they need a parent, even one that they will dislike at times but in the long run will look back and know they were loved.

sharon on

Just seen her new movie “This Means War”. So funny gotta go see it 🙂

mary on

wow, you are an awful mean bitch gorham!

Cassie on

Yep, my niece is only 8, but the few times I’ve tried to help her with homework, I wanted to rip my hair out. lol.

As with the cell phone, I am not a proponent of kids younger than teenage having a phone. But, my sister got my niece a phone because she hangs out with the neighbor kids and she wants to know where she is at all times. So, in that sense, yes, get the phone.

annachestnut on

Mother and daughter look so alike! Reese is such a young mother.

Shelly on

I’m 52 and have a 13 year old daughter in 7th grade. I remember my junior high days like they were yesterday. What’s going on in schools today is not much different than what was going on when I was in 7th grade in 1973, except now there is more stimulation via cell phones, computers and Facebook.

The key is raising an emotionally healthy and stable child is to communicate. Talk to them about anything and everything, relationships, bullying, body image, strengths, weaknesses, sex, you name it – because if you don’t talk to them about it, someone else will and I can guarantee that their friends won’t provide them with the guidance and support that you will provide them with. Let them know they can come to you about anything and don’t “forbid” them from doing anything (within reason) because they will do it behind your back and you won’t be aware of it when they need help.

Vanessa on

DeaubryGorham – I never comment on here but after seeing your comment felt that I had to. All I want to say is that you must have some serious issues to make a comment like that.

Commentgirl on

@DeaubryGorham: My goodness, you really have issues! Why would you talk about someone’s physical attributes that way? Is that really so important? How rude of you!

Cynthia on

Spitting image of her mother… Beautiful

atleastimnice on

@Gorham, it’s people like you that give me nightmares about where this world is heading to. Your comments against an innocent child like Ava leaves me to belive that you have been seriously bullied in your life and feel the need to lift your deflated self esteem by putting others down. I would say you need to seriously look at yourself in the mirror and deal with your issues, but I’m sure someone as perfect as you think you are doesn’t have a need for self reflection. Shame on you for your shallow and hate filled comments!

gottabelieve on

WOW! Talk about a mini me. She looks JUST like Reese! Cute!!

Can't belive My Eyes on

WOW DeaubryGorham..You are just filled with nice things to say. You are rude. Those were just awful comments.

showbizmom on

Hmmm @DeaubryGorham I’m pretty sure you’ll never work in Hollywood again. As a producer I would never hire you to fit any of my actors. You broke a golden rule in Hollywood, which is you don’t talk about those you work with. You better hope that I, or anyone else finds out your real name because that NDA you signed will come back to bite you in the ass. Good luck!

Susan on

Now we all know the real reason our teachers told us that we had to learn math… we all have to sit at the kitchen table and go over it with our kids!

Rhea on

@DeaubryGorham–You are sick.

carey on

@Gorham…..Your comment is so uncalled for and has nothing to do with the article. You took an article in which Reese expressed her feelings about her daughter becoming a teenager and used it to attack the way they look. You should be ashamed.

KLS on

Ava is a beautiful young lady!

Liz on

Reese and Ava are beautiful. When my kids were in school, I too thought all thehomework they had to do was ludicrous. Kids should do schoolwork; when they get home, the free time is theirs, whether it’s outside or tv with snacks. Kids are not given breaks. Reese does need to check on Ava; because if you don’t, they can get in a heap of trouble. My two grown kids had their share of it, but have turned out beautiful. The secret to raising a teenager is to pay attention.

Lisa on

@DeaubryGorham, there are psychiatrists to help you with those inbred issues you have!

Morgan Messer on

I am 12. I am turning 13 a month before reese witherspoon’s daughter! so cool! 🙂

Lis on

Are you on drugs??? Seriously. What a bizarre rambling of ignorance…

Jodie on

Let your kids do what they want, if they have been properly raised, educated, and are mature they will understand what to stay away from and what is wrong. Kids are smarter than you think they are, 13 year olds are not that innocent anymore no matter what us parents think.

I have come to accept my 15 yr old daughter as an adult that should be treated with respect and not as my little girl anymore. If you don’t allow your kids to spend time with friends, text, go online, or anything else of that type, your children will just lie to you. You have to trust your kids and realize that they will do whats right.

Karen on

That’s the problem of having children when you are too young!

L. Marie on

I’m with all of you on the homework struggles. I have a senior in high school, and an 8th grader and let me tell you, from about 5th grade to 7th grade I felt like a complete moron because I could not understand the things they are now teaching them. It’s not the same as it was when I was a kid. What used to be a 2 step subtraction problem has now become a 5 or 6 step problem.

Anyway, I think that Reese and Ryan (though now apart) are doing a fine job of raising their kids, and wish them blessings as their baby girl enters her teenage years.

Mia on

I bet she’ll have another child – with the baby boom…maybe in the next year.

Danielle on


emily on

Jodie- You treat your 15 year old daughter like an adult? Yikes. Letting them do whatever they want when they’re 15 and still very much a child…that’s scary. Of course you have to eventually trust your kids to do the right thing, make their own mistakes and decisions, but that shouldn’t start in 10th grade. Just my opinion…

Angelus on

I am hoping to see Deaubry poat a picture to show what perfection looks like……….Please make it a picture of your whole person so we can all see a person who is the ideal height, as well as one with perfect features. I will be anxiously waiting my chance to see perfection. I never have before. It will be a wonderful experience, I’m sure.

Candace on


ashlee on

She doesn’t look anything like her mom, in my opinion. Looks very much like Ryan. I’ve never seen this kid’s face before, and that was just my first impression.

Genevioeve on

I have a 10 year old and I am NOT smarter than a 5th grader!

Melinda on

I am so glad to see a thirteen year old child of celebrity who actually LOOKS and acts like thirteen instead of thirty. Beautiful young lady.

Sandi on

Reese, you are a smart, beautiful and talented woman. Ava looks so much like you. I’m certain you have done an amazing job raising Ava.

Always be there for her with patience, guidence and understanding. Also, don’t forget praise where it’s due. With that said, Ava will do fine and make you and Ryan proud.

Barbi on

Adorable teen and adorable mommy. DeaubryGorham, you’re pathetic picking on a lil’ girl; there’s therapy for that… go get some.

shalay on

What is the problem with having children when you’re too young? Please specify. Is it that she is having a hard time helping them with their homework? Reese was an English major at Stanford, one of the most prestigious universities in the country. The fact that she’s having a difficult time figuring out her daughter’s homework doesn’t indicate that she’s dumb, it just shows how much things have changed since she was a child to now.

Or perhaps you mean she was too young because she is unprepared to raise a teenager. And if that’s the case, I don’t think any parent, whether they’re 35 or 50, is fully prepared for what’s to come in the teen years, especially for their first born. You learn as you go. Reese has always been one of the most mature, well-rounded actresses in Hollywood. Young or not, she is a great example of a good parent.

Sholi on

@DeaubryGorham–So rude! I can’t believe someone would say all the nasty things you said about Reece and her adorable 13 yr old daughter! Didn’t anyone teach you that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all? Also, both Reece and Ava are beautiful…no freakish features in those beauties!

Anonymous on

I have to admit this….I read this article just for the sake of it…BUT after reading all your comments you moms, I am interested in reading more about you and how you deal with your kids homework rather than going in detail about Reese and her daughter..Salute to all the moms who are so involved in your kids life and their school..

Jane on

Uh, a 13 year old does NOT need a cell phone, they are ridiculous and only cause trouble. ONLY have a computer in the family room where everyone can see what is going on on it, use all the parental locks that you can, do NOT let her on facebook or twitter, they cause trouble and are a waste of life. She does NOT need to date until at least 16, no need, hanging out with friends is fine, but no individual dates. And remember, keep an eye on who she is hanging with, also meet the parents; the friends are the ones you have to watch, they always try to cause trouble.

Jen on

@Sholi, I can’t believe all the mean things you are saying about other people that want to give their opinions in their posts. If they were as bad as yours, I am sure the monitor would block them. First of all you are already being disrespectful to Rease by spelling her name wrong, it is SE at the end, not CE. Maybe you need to re-watch Bambi again to get the full meaning of the quotes you are spewing in hatred. You Freak. I will bet you are six-feet-four with triple chins and a wart on your nose.

Math_Deeva on

Reese’s daughter is just as beautiful as she is…hard to believe her daughter is going to be 13! Makes me feel old 😦

As a side note, it’s really sad how many of you have commented that you can’t comprehend your child’s math homework. You’re an adult and you have problems with 3rd to 6th grade math? Really?

Edie on

People, please understand that posters like DeaubryGorham are actually TROLLS. They go to website after website and say startlingly rude and shocking things to get people worked up, to get attention and to derail the posts from topic. You people fall for it EVERY time! LMAO. If you would just ignore them and stop feeding the trolls, they would stop coming here because it would be no fun. Geez.

Jillian on

@Jen… You do realize that YOU spelled her name wrong too, don’t you?

Ashley on

For those that are commenting about not being able to help kids with their math homework – check what textbook your child uses, and look up the book online. There will often be worksheets, quick mini lessons, and games for parents to use with students. There is also a site I use a lot in tutoring called – they have video on math, English, and many other subjects. While subjects are taught differently these days, a little internet sleuthing often will help!!

Bree on

My daughter isn’t even three months old yet and I am already nervous about her teen years and freaking out about homework, I will be fine up until she reaches grade 8 and then I am in HUGE trouble (I am an educational assistant at an elementary school and working on my B.ED) and when it comes to math, well Thank God for my husband!! I got a mercy past in Grade 12 math, my husband got mad the he only got an 80% in advanced calculus and he didn’t study for the final, I am praying my daughter gets his natural abilities in math and not mine.

Eva is stunning just like her Mom. Reese is one of my favorite celebs, both for her acting and movies but how she presents herself and how she is with her kids, very classy lady!!

Whatever happened to the old theory of “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything else at all”???? Seems to have gone out the window for a couple of you!! I realize that we are all intitled to our opinions, but if you do feel the need to insult a total strangers at least be somewhat polite about it!!

Mel on

Wow, I remember when Ava was born (I was a big fan of her dad’s when I was a teen)!

eribri on

Reese’s age has nothing to do with having children at a young age or not. 13 is a BIG step, it’s the first year of a teenager, if I was her I would be unprepared as well! You have to oblivious to not see how much a classroom has changed in their teaching. Reese not knowing all about her daughter’s homework is PERFECTLY NORMAL as a parent! She is not dumb at all, over years you just simply forget what you learn from 5th,6th,7th grade….

Julesy on

I cannot believe that Ava will be turning 13 years old. Where does the time fly? Seems just like yesterday that Reese was pregnant with Deacon.

Isabelle on

It’s crazy to think that Reese was just a year older than her daughter is now when she began her acting career!

Rosey on

This is sooo true. I had one of the first Apple computers in class in elementary and I’d come home and my parents had no idea about floppy’s and such so I explained it to them. The stuff my kid learns in school I have no idea either. The new authors, the music, it’s scary. I’m turning in to my clueless granny! (bless her heart btw 🙂

guest on

why would you be proudly sharing that you can’t keep up with your kids homework? how embarrassing!

Bancie1031 on

I just love Reese! Her and Ryan made some beautiful children …. Ava looks just like Reese …. I would like to see Reese have another child …. that’s my personal opinion ….. She is so talented ….. I do wonder how she would feel if her daughter wanted to become an actress like herself ….. after all Ava is almost the same age she was when she entered the hollywood scene ……

Julie on

Reese is such a wonderful person and she is an even better Mama. I am sure she will do just fine but I will say girls can be so much harder then boys and get ready for the drama to start because it is going too. On a good note your daughter can also be your best friend and they can help you understand what their going through but don’t expect them to ask you for too much advice because it is probley not gonna happen and if it does be really happy. I am close to my youngest daughter and I love all of my kid’s but we seem to click more so she talks to me sometime and sometimes I talk to her too. Look forward to life. One day it is cheerios and sippy cups and the next day it is bras and boys.Good Luck

RealRuralHousewifeOfCalifornia on

Oh come on folks!! Gorman’s simply a troll who’s cut & pasted some stupid anti-Reese message. Ignore trolls and don’t reply to them!

Lyn on

I have a son in the gifted program and I’m pretty sure we NEVER had these types of classes when I was in High School! He know to not even ask me anymore because I give the blank “say what?” stare!! I also use youtube to help my younger son with his homework mostly because the way I do division is not how his teacher wants it written out.

MiB on

I think most parents are a bit apprehensive about the teenage years, no matter at what age they become parents. Right now I actually have two friends fretting about their daughters becoming 13, one of them became a mom at 20, the other one at 32, yet their concerns are quite the same!

As for having trouble understanding your childs homework, I think it’s totally fine to admit that you don’t understand what they are doing (at least after they’ve mastered the basics). Chances are that they are at least partly taught different things with different methods even if you had the same teacher.

Knowledge also fades if we don’t use it. I was pretty good at history when I was in school, but now I’m happy if I place the right event during the right decade or sometimes even the right end of a century. I was also good at geography, physics and linguistics, and I remember quite a lot of what I learned in school since I use my knowledge, maybe not daily or even weekly, but often enough to keep at least some of my knowledge (in the case of physics) or most of my knowledge (geography and linguistics).

As a child I used to help my little brother with his homework, except for the last two years of hight school when he helped me with my maths homework as I was pretty average in maths and he was in the advanced class! But the thing is, even then I sometimes had trouble with his homework as we went to different schools and were occationaly taught different things with different methods.

jm on

Gorham is just a troll, everyone…trolls post incendiary comments to get a rise out of people. Ignore him/her/it and don’t let their moronic comments hijack the entire thread…that’s what they thrive on. In other words, “Don’t Feed the Trolls” – they want the attention and you are just feeding it when you acknowledge them.

Jill on

Oh gosh, I am lost on my daughter’s homework too! She’s 14. I can’t even imagine doing some of the work they do in school these days. Seems so far beyond what I did when I was her age. LOL

shazam on

I think GORHAM is just saying these stupid things for attention….how about ignoring Gorham….people like that dont deserve a second thought much less all of these comments she or he is reveling in!

Ann on

Limit her freedom and keep her young for as long as you can…..she’s only turning 13 not 21.

Mom of 2 on

To those of you responding to people saying mean or nasty things: does it ever occur to you that it could be some guy sitting with a bunch of his friends or a bunch of girls at a sleepover writing that just to get a response out of you and laughing at all of you saying “how rude”? don’t give these people the pleasure and just ignore them sheesh

Beth on

Me too Reese! Both of our daughters are the same age and i see changes comin. Is your daughter materialistic? Mine is. She’s already got an apple I pod. Sheeesh! I guess what’s next is Boys. Ugh! So right now, I’m in super protective mode more so than her father is. I also am concerned about cyber bullying. Thanx for sharing your concerns. I feel a kinship with you since you are my FAVORITE actress, you’re nice and our daughters share the same age.

Shannon on

Ava is so cute.

wendie goode-dox on

Normally I dont reply to trolls, but this deaubry gorrham is off her tree, in oh so many ways… and might I say that I stood behind the darling reese witherspoon in line at clementine’s bakery a few days ago and she is somewhere between 5’2 and 5’4 (and nice as can be).

so deubry, go get your head examined, ya sick jerk.

Chrissy on

She seems ok, but what I didn’t like in this interview is how she says she learns from the other mothers by asking what they do. Why not think through these things and make your own rules? There’s alot of problems in the world and maybe going along with what all the other mothers are doing isn’t the best route. People need to stop being afraid of their children not fitting in and start parenting by doing what they think is right.

Maryanne on

Lovely young lady.

It isn’t that we, as parents, are stupid in regards to our children’s homework, rather the way we were taught isn’t how kids today are taught. Or also, at least for me, I do not remember every shape and figuring area and the like. Thank goodness for google!

Oh Please! on

Oh brother! Trying to get the crazy fans to “awwwww” her! She WILL NEVER KNOW what it’s truly like to raise any children! She has ALL the HELP in the world PLUS A FATHER WHO IS VERY VERY VERY ACTIVE in the kids life. I am positive that this was a CO-PARENTING talk not just her!!!!!!! Reese Witherspoon, give credit were credit is do!

Janey on

surprised she hasn’t already got a cell phone at 13. Reese sounds a little controlling.

meghan on

OhPlease, she has mentioned several times that Ryan is very involved in their children’s lives. She doesn’t need to reiterate that fact every time she talks about their kids. It’s common knowledge that they are actively co-parenting.

Jeni on

@Janey, why does she sound controlling? Simply because Ava does not have a cell phone, at the age of 12? She has not turned 13 yet but it sounds like Reese and Ryan are doing a good job of raising both of their children. So what she does not have a cell phone? Where is it written that every child NEEDS one? Ever thought that at her age (Ava,12) that she does NOT need one?

Ava is absolutely beautiful for her age and of course looks just like her mom. I think Reese sounds just like a normal parent, one who does not live in Hollywood that is, and has the same parental concerns where concerning her children. Nothing wrong with that.

Shannon on

A 13 year old doesn’t really need a cell phone unless it’s for emergencies only. Waiting until she’s 15 is better IMO.

Jillian on

I love this post!! I can relate in so many ways. We have five children and I have forget at times on things with their homework. I use their book as a reference bc I can’t remember things. It makes my children laugh and feel super smart but it’s the only way I can help them. My oldest is in 8th grade and the youngest in diapers. I think part of the struggle is the new ways they teach….oh and the fact that I have my hands full 🙂 In regards to cell phones, I think age doesn’t matter, it’s responsibility that is what matters. Our older children have them and have had no issues.


J on

I also have a girl approaching 13. I told her when she gets to the junior high, she can get one for emergency only. I told her she will not be texting or calling anyone for a few more years.

On boys, I came up with an “A-HA” moment. I told her she can go to boy/girl group outings in a couple years, but, she may not get “serious” with any “one” guy until she graduates.

Just from observing people and life, it seems this is when things go bad if the get serious too early. Since I’ve explained this ahead of time, her and her younger sister are okay with this….

Sandra on

My son will be 13 next year and we have been having the cell phone talk (argument) since he was 9. He cannot have one until he is thirteen and then it will only be a simple flip phone, no bells or whistles. As far as math is concerned I rely on what I remember and as many YouTube tutorials as I can find.