Natalie Portman: There Are No Rules About Being a Good Mom

10/29/2013 at 11:00 AM ET

Natalie Portman The Telegraph

Parenting brings a new set of responsibilities. But, as Natalie Portman happily discovered, there actually aren’t that many rules.

“I love being a mom,” the Oscar winner, 32, tells Britain’s The Telegraph of her time with Aleph, 2, her son with choreographer Benjamin Millepied.

“I’m less judgmental than before I had a kid,” adds Portman, who stars in the upcoming Thor: The Dark World. “The biggest thing I’ve learned is that parenting is a totally different experience for every person.”

And this means that whatever works for any particular mother is just fine.

“Everything is cool, there are no rules — I mean, apart from not hurting your kid,” Portman says. “Some people breastfeed until their babies are 5, and some don’t breastfeed at all. There are no rules about what it means to be a feminist, or a good mother. For some, it’s going to be right to go back to work. For others, it’s going to be right to stop working completely.”

An only child herself, Portman credits her parents with giving her strong values and, just as important, a relatively normal childhood — even though she started acting professionally at 11.

“My parents were wonderful,” she says. “They were completely present, completely loving, they allowed me to do what I was passionate about, and I understand now how much they protected me. I was lucky to act and have a regular household, lifestyle and friends.”

Her parents, Portman adds, “maintained a calm and normal life for me that was far away from movie land.”

Twenty-one years and one Oscar (for Black Swan) into her career, not much can faze Portman these days — although she admits to having been starstruck acting next to Anthony Hopkins in Thor.

“I was completely intimidated,” she says. “I kept messing up lines around him because I was so nervous, and he was so sweet about it. He made me feel at ease. He’d be like, ‘That’s a really hard line to say,’ and I’d be like, ‘No, I just can’t get it out.’ Your jaw drops on the floor watching him. He’s just … man, he’s a giant among actors.”

Tim Nudd

FILED UNDER: Natalie Portman , News , Parenting

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thenitenurse on

And to think she went to Harvard.

Guest on

That baby is adorable!!!

Anonymous on

As a 30 year old parent I agree with everything she said. There are as many parenting styles as there are parents. The safety of our kids is always on our mind but that aside, we each decide about, and travel our own parenting path. Oh…and I also agree about the great Anthony Hopkins! 🙂

LM on

Perfectly stated. It makes me sad when parents shame other parents about how they raise their kids. As long as you are taking good care of your child and of yourself, you are a good parent. She’s so lovely – wish we saw more of her in movies.

Jenny on

Well, getting married, or into a long-term permanent relationship is a good way to start before becoming a parent. Harvard girl, you do have the “there is no right or wrong and every child and parent are different” very correct. Do your very best, as many of us do, and Aleph will do just fine.

Ariel on

DISAGREE. To imply that all parenting is equal is ridiculous. Spending quality with your kids is “cool,” as Natalie put it. Letting them watch hours of TV is definitely not just as cool. Making time to cook healthy meals is cool. Feeding them processed junk is not just as cool.

There are a lot more ways to hurt your kid than just physically. Lots of other parenting choices hurt kids and it’s extremely naive to not realize that.

Anonymous on

Way to go, Natalie! About time a celeb said something like this!

lankyjane on

She looks quite pregnant in that photo.

guest on

lol, all the jealous pea-brains here calling her “Harvard girl”. She has just the right attitude for a mom. Yes she went to Harvard. and had a career. woopdidoo. No one would comment on it if this was about a male actor (like James Franco who has his academic career as well) America seems to prefer stupid people.

Jen on

Is it just me, or does it seem many of the readers are intimidated or dare I say jealous of Natalie’s Harvard education? Amusing that three of you so far have felt a need to bring it up as though it’s a slam against her.

And Ariel, as a parent, I think most of us would agree that sometimes just getting your child to EAT is what’s most important. Not all children will gobble down fruits and vegetables like we wish they would. You can try your best, but kids come out having a mind of their own whether we like it not. You can give them the best options, but in the end, they’re going to make their own choice.

Jill on

Jenny,,,”Harvard Girl”?!? You major fail at being snarky as I am pretty sure her attending Harvard is not an insult even in your 8itchy tone. As far as being married first…do what you need to and lay off judging others. Not everyone’s path involves marriage first and being married does not make you a good parent nor does having a child out of wedlock mean you are a bad parent…regardless of the self-righteous finger pointers.

Ariel on

Jen, kids would gobble down fruits and vegetables if parents didn’t give them goldfish and fruit snacks all the time. If you truly do give your kids the best options, then they can only choose the best from the best.

E.g., my son eats fruits and veggies every day. I don’t offer him junk too, so he doesn’t end up choosing junk. It’s pretty simple.

Jen on

Ariel, yeah. Ok. And every child is *exactly* like your’s. What a wonderful outlook you have on parenting. Perhaps you should spend a day with a child who does have texture issues or simply just be a headstrong baby/toddler, and watch them deny every single solitary vegetable and fruit you set down in front of them day after day, week after week and see just what you would do to get your child to eat.

Please, step back from the judgemental high horse on what you think every mother should do (i.e. what you do) because not every child will do exactly what your child does. That’s a fact. Do some research on picky eaters, and the struggles some parents deal with when facing one.

Kaitlynn Roeschen on

is it me or does she look pregnant? If this is a current, up to date photo… He is adorable.

Olivette on

This photo is more than a year old.

meghan on

That’s an old picture. He is two years old now.

emma on

All she is trying to say is that her attitude toward parenting is totally different now that she has a child. She is saying that she now understand that there is no Bible on Parenting, and no one should be judged on basic parenting decision such as breast feeding and whether or not you are a stay at home mom or a working mom. People commenting are putting words in her mouth. And her Harvard degree has nothing to do with any of this. Take a chill pill everyone.

D on

Well Ariel, you might as well call CPS on me because I (gasp) fed my kids fast food cheeseburgers last night that I had my husband stop and get. I was so flipping exhausted from housework, grocery shopping and getting prepared for Halloween. I guess that one meal ( ok, at least 2 or 3 a month) through me out of the good mother category! ☺

D on

Well Natalie!! Ariel you might as well call CPS on me right now because I fed my kids (gasp) fast food cheeseburgers last night that I had my husband pick up on the way home from work. I was exhausted from cleaning, grocery shopping and getting prepared for Halloween. I guess that one meal ( ok, 2 or 3 meals a month) kicked me out of the good mom category. By the way, are you going to be teaching any parenting classes soon? Hee, Hee!

Anonymous on

Best article! This should be posted everyday and more people need to follow this and stop being so judgemental and stop thriving on bashing. It is so nasty.