Jennifer Garner Says She Raises Her Kids With "A Little Bit Of Benign Neglect"
“I’m not trying to live their life, and I don’t mind that they see that I love mine.”
Jennifer Garner is paving the way for her kids to live their own lives. She might not define her parenting style in any particular way, but in a recent interview with Hoda Kotb on TODAY, the Family Switch star makes an excellent case for practicing “benign neglect.”
Garner, who is mom to 17-year-old daughter Seraphina, 14-year-old daughter Violet, and 11-year-old son Samuel with ex-husband Ben Affleck, spoke to Kotb about her relationship with her kids. “I don’t know that I have some overarching philosophy,” Garner explained in a Nov. 28 interview. “I just think they’re such cool people and I want to hear everything, and I want to be around. But I also think it’s OK if they suffer from a little bit of benign neglect.”
For those who haven’t heard of it, benign neglect is considered a style of parenting where exploration and independence is encouraged in children, with parents being present but separate. In other words, benign neglect is the opposite of helicopter parenting in many respects.
The 13 Going on 30 star went on to say that she believes “their lives are their own,” and continued, “I’m not trying to live their life, and I don’t mind that they see that I love mine.”
This relaxed-yet-loving attitude towards parenting will serve Garner well as her kids get older and move out of the house because she has already started to give them, and herself, the space to individuate within the family. Although it has to be said, apparently this laissez-faire does not extend to the holiday season. Garner told TODAY that her house over the holidays is all about “a lot of forced joy” because “any traditions you force when they’re little, they’ll appreciate when they’re older.”
She’s also very protective of her kids as far as social media is concerned. In April, Garner shed light on the conversations she has with her kids when they ask to create an account. “I just said to my kids, ‘Show me the articles that prove that social media is good for teenagers, and then we’ll have the conversation,’” she told Kotb in a different TODAY interview earlier this year. “Find scientific evidence that matches what I have that says that it’s not good for teenagers.” Of course, it didn’t happen, and her oldest daughter Violet told her mom she was “grateful” not to be exposed to social media in the end.
So far things seem to be working out just fine, at least as far as Garner is concerned. “My kids are funny and they’re smart, and they work really hard,” she told People. “And their teenage antics are at the very lowest, G-rated level, so I’m doing okay.”