18 November 2018Last updated


Parenting lessons from Hollywood

We can learn a thing or two from these celebrity parents

Charlene Naidoo
17 Jul 2016 | 10:57 am
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Learn from celebrity parents? If your first reaction is “Haha, good one!”… well, we get it. After all, what can multimillionaires teach us about the work-life parenting balance – they who have never seen sleepless nights with their armies of nannies and thousand-count sheets?

Strange as it may seem, some celebrity parents have surprisingly sensible parenting styles that reiterate a lot of our own teachings.

Do: discipline right


Bollywood actress Kajol, mum of two, says she is a disciplinarian. Her rule of thumb: “Do as Mom says. I am very strict with my kids. I think it is very important for them to know exactly what the boundaries are and that they cannot cross them. I think they will grow up to be better human beings if they have that in front of them. As parents it is our responsibility to teach them what is right and wrong.”


The Queen Bey herself (Beyoncé) had a few tough lessons in discipline. In an interview, her mother Tina Knowles recounts admonishing her daughter severely when she was acting like a diva. “My husband said, ‘Tina! She’s got the No 1 record on the radio!… I didn’t care. I was terrified, I had seen people take your child and turn them into something you didn’t want them to be. I taught my girls to pick up their own suitcases. Pretty is as pretty does. Like my mother said, ‘You have to be cute on the inside.’”

Don’t: sweat the small stuff


Ah, your gorgeous all-white living room… the priceless art that tastefully litters your home… your just-renovated kitchen in all its shiny, sparkly glory – now that you’ve had children, what will become of your impeccable home and belongings? Supermodel and TV presenter, Heidi Klum, believes in keeping calm and shrugging it off. “I’m not someone who lives like, “OK, this is a museum and you can’t sit here, you can’t touch this and everything has to be put in its place. The kids live here as much as we do.”

Do: respect your child’s boundaries


Hats off to momager and all-round spin machine, Kris Jenner. She, by all accounts, took a little-known family – The Kardashians – and created pop culture gold. Still… let’s not rush to crown her Parent of the Year. Amongst her less than favourable parenting moments: detailing her extramarital affairs in a tell-all, telling Khloe that she needed a nose job, encouraging Kim to pose naked, and generally indulging in a lot of inappropriate talk with her then tween daughters, Kylie and Kendall.

Do: better all by yourself


Recent figures show that there are over 80,000 single-parent homes in the UAE – an increase of 71 per cent from 2006 to 2011. You may not choose to be a single parent, but it doesn’t have to be self-limiting. Take a page from author JK Rowling’s book. In an essay for Gingerbread (a single-parenting organisation in the UK), she writes: “I would say to any single parent feeling the weight of stereotype or stigmatisation that I am prouder of my years as a single mother than of any other part of my life. Nothing makes me prouder than what Jessica told me recently about the first five years of her life: ‘I never knew we were poor. I just remember being happy.’”

Don’t: go full modern


“I think we may have gone too far in parenting Jaden and Willow,” admitted actor, Will Smith in a recent Vanity Fair interview. The Smiths’ parenting philosophy has famously focused on their kids’ freedom of expression – which has raised a lot of eyebrows. At age 12, Willow Smith was the subject of a visit by the Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services when a picture of her with a shirtless 17-year-old surfaced online. In an interview, both children, Willow and Jaden, 17, said that school was a waste of time. And most recently, Jaden’s been in the news for dating a 20-year-old model who hasn’t been shy about her drug use.

Do: teach as you learned


Most of us over 30 would have heard some variation of “In my day…” or “I had to earn everything I have,” from our own parents. As a life and parenting lesson, it doesn’t get simpler or more profound. Hard work and a strong work ethic builds better kids – and better adults. Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates (and wife Melinda) are adamant about the benefits of hard work. Most of their multibillion-dollar fortune is earmarked for charity; their children only received cellphones at 13 and to earn more pocket money they had to help out with chores. On giving away his massive fortune, he has said, “Leaving it to (them) wouldn’t be good either for my kids or society. We want to strike a balance so they have the freedom to do anything and not so much that they can do nothing.”

Tough love

How other countries raise children

1 Worried about your little one getting ill the minute the temperature drops? Norwegian parents are made of sterner stuff. Even in winter, Scandinavian parents walk outdoors, pushing napping kids in their strollers – all bundled up of course.


2 It’s hard for new parents not to leap at a newborn’s every sound. Take a tip from Kenyans. In the book Humanity: An Introduction to Cultural Anthropology, the authors write, “Traditionally, Kisii people avert their gaze when babies start fussing. In the context of Kisii culture, eye contact is an act bestowed with a lot
of power. It’s like saying, ‘You are in charge,’ which isn’t the message parents want to send their kids. Kisii kids are less attention-seeking as a result.”


3 Food pour moi, food pour toi: if you struggle with a picky eater, opt for a French-ism. In a 2014 interview on BBC Food, Karen Le Billion, author of French Kids Eat Anything, said her biggest culture shock was seeing how French children cheerfully tried and enjoyed new foods. “Basically, they ate like French adults –
 even the preschoolers – without complaint.”

Charlene Naidoo

Charlene Naidoo