Jessica Alba Shares How She Handles The Big Parenting Conversations

“I want my kids to feel seen and heard and valued, but they still need a lot of guidance.”

by Lauren Tegtmeyer

Romper asked our March 2021 cover star Jessica Alba to tell us how she handles some of the big parenting conversations. Here’s what she had to say.

When Your Kids Think You’re Not Cool, Remind Them You Were In Honey

“When we got on TikTok and they were making fun of me and my lack of TikTok dancing skills, I was like, ‘You know, I’m not a dancer, kids. But I did a dance movie called Honey and people liked it.’”

When Your Kids Find Out You’re Famous, Roll With It And Move On

“It’s a bizarre reality. They didn’t really know I was an actress until a kid from school brought a magazine to school and my oldest was horrified and I was like ‘I’m sorry I didn’t tell you.’ Then my parents showed the kids a movie that I was in. … They still think I’m cringey, it doesn’t really matter.”

Remember That Body Image Is Inherited

“The lens that I look through is I remember how my mom spoke about her body, then informed the way that I was going to talk to myself about my body. And even when my mom said, ‘You’re beautiful,’ and ‘It doesn’t matter what other people think,’ it didn’t matter. I took on her baggage. And so I make a very concerted effort not to talk poorly about my body in front of my kids. Even when I’m like, ‘Man, my stretch marks, or the loose skin or the cellulite’ or whatever it is... I just talk about ‘Do you feel good? Do you feel comfortable? Do you feel healthy?’ I think it’s important that you know that no matter what you say to your kids and how you have that unconditional love as a parent, they’re going to view themselves the way that you view yourself. It’s kind of like walk the walk versus talk the talk.”

Sometimes You Have To Pop Kids’ Privilege Bubbles

“It’s very difficult for a child to grasp any other reality than their own, and so you just have to figure out how to, like, poke through that and pierce through that, you know? They’re growing up in a totally different reality than how I grew up where my parents are living paycheck to paycheck and trying to make ends meet and working several jobs each. Meanwhile they have a very secure financial household where we’re not worried about those types of things, so they need to have humility and compassion and also be very grateful for what they have. But know that it’s not an entitlement, it’s not something they should just expect. They should always work hard, they should always be respectful. So I think there’s only so much that you can do and that they can comprehend, but I think if you consistently expose them to things outside of their safe little bubble, I think that that’s good.”

Give Big Emotions A Few Minutes

“I probably should choose my timing better, but I kind of just talk about it in the moment when it’s happening. When they are upset and want to run away and go to their room I’ll let them take that time, and after about 10 minutes it’s not as fire, it’s not as heated. Then we can kind of like talk through it.”

Remember: Hormones Happen

“Even when you’re going through hormonal changes and even though you’re growing and you have all these emotions — at any moment you can cry or you can laugh — and you just feel sort of jumbled, I’m like, ‘That is all exactly what you should be feeling right now.’ So that’s normal. Don’t hold it inside. You have to let it out; you have to express yourself.”

You Can Do Things Differently When You’re The Parent

“I think I was really frustrated with the way that I was raised, which is probably why I started working when I was 12. I felt very stifled and it was debilitating and I was quite depressed as a kid from of it. My parents and my grandparents were never trying to do any harm, it’s just what they knew. And so when it came to parenting, I just knew that I didn’t want my kids to feel as trapped. We’ve taken a much more open approach when it comes to communicating.”

Respect Is Not The Same As Being Treated Like An Adult

“I want my kids to feel seen and heard and valued, but I also have to put into consideration that they’re kids and they don’t necessarily have the skill set to be treated like an adult and to make those types of choices, so they still need a lot of guidance, and they still need boundaries.”