In a candid conversation on the “Good Inside with Dr. Becky” podcast, acclaimed actress Reese Witherspoon shared insights into her parenting philosophy, shedding light on the delicate balance between shielding children from failure and allowing them to learn from their mistakes.
With three children from two marriages, Witherspoon acknowledged a prevalent trend among parents in avoiding their children’s failures. She reminisced about her own upbringing, emphasizing the invaluable lessons she gained from her mistakes, such as detentions and school suspensions. According to Witherspoon, letting children sit in the discomfort of their experiences is essential for their personal growth.
“I see this a lot with parents – I don’t know when we stopped letting our kids fail. Like I learned so much from the paper I didn’t turn in or the demerits I got, so I got detention. I was suspended from school,” she said on the “Good Inside with Dr. Becky” podcast, “when I was in fifth grade for talking in class and being disruptive. And writing creative notes and passing them to my friends.”
“And my parents didn’t say, ‘Uh, she didn’t deserve that.’ And take me out of school. They actually let me sit in it, and feel uncomfortable. So I think, learning from failure is actually a valuable tool that you can’t take away from kids, right? You rob them if you don’t let them sit in the discomfort of the experience.”
The Oscar-winning actress confessed to being a tough parent, recounting an incident when her daughter, Ava, returned from a basketball game disheartened after failing to score any baskets. Witherspoon shared that she didn’t shy away from honesty, telling her daughter that perhaps basketball wasn’t her forte. The revelation prompted a surprised reaction from Ava, highlighting Witherspoon’s commitment to teaching her children the importance of acknowledging their strengths and weaknesses.
A significant aspect of Witherspoon’s parenting journey has been grappling with the urge to control her children’s appearance and choices. She admitted the challenge of resisting the temptation to dictate what they wear or how they present themselves. Witherspoon emphasized the need for children to explore self-expression, creativity, and identity without parental imposition.
The actress acknowledged the difficulty in letting go of control, especially as a working mother. She spoke candidly about the realization that her absence doesn’t equate to her children’s inadequacy. Instead, she recognized the value in allowing her children to adapt to different parenting styles, fostering independence, and teaching them to navigate various authority figures and cultural contexts.
As Witherspoon shared her parenting journey, she urged fellow moms to refrain from believing they are the sole authorities on what is right for their children. She emphasized the potential harm in micromanaging every aspect of their lives, advocating for a more adaptable and diverse parenting approach that prepares children for the complexities of the world.