In an open letter to those caring for children during the coronavirus pandemic, Angelina Jolie asked parents to forget being perfect. Writing for TIME's Parents newsletter, the mother of six said she felt it was "impossible" for parents to "do everything right, answer all needs, and stay calm and positive" during a global health pandemic fraught with lockdowns, stay-at-home orders, and evolving social distancing guidelines. Instead, she encouraged parents to concentrate on being "honest" and building a team with their children.
"In the midst of this pandemic, I think of all the mothers and fathers with children at home," Jolie recently wrote for TIME. "All hoping they can do everything right, answer all needs, and stay calm and positive."
"One thing that has helped me is to know that's impossible," she continued.
Jolie shares 18-year-old Maddox, 16-year-old Pax, 15-year-old Zahara, 13-year-old Shiloh, 11-year-old twins Knox and Vivienne with ex-husband Brad Pitt. According to InStyle, the Jolie-Pitt children have been self-isolating during the coronavirus pandemic but have continued their regular visits with Pitt.
In her letter for TIME, Jolie, who guest-edited the magazine's newsletter for parents, sought to remind caregivers everywhere that they're not alone and that their burdens are, in fact, shared. "I am thinking of you. I am imagining how hard each of you is trying to get through your days," she wrote. "How much you want to lead your loved ones through this. How you worry. How you plan. How you smile for them, when inside you feel at times you are breaking."
Like many other parents and caregivers, Jolie admitted in her letter for TIME once struggling with a desire to be the perfect parent for her kids. That is, until she discovered that perfect wasn't what her children wanted from her. "It is a lovely thing to discover that your children don't want you perfect," she wrote. "They just want you honest. And doing your best."
While Jolie wrote that she knows now that perfect isn't possible, she has previously shared that she once struggled with doubts about her parenting skills. "I questioned when I was a mother if I was good enough," the actor told reporters at the 2019 Los Angeles premiere of Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil. A few weeks later, Marie Claire reported that Jolie had elaborated about her own fears of motherhood while at Maleficent's London premiere.
"We probably all have this idea — I know I did before I had kids — that to be a perfect mother, you have to be a perfect person and that’s just not true," Jolie said, according to Marie Claire. "You have to do your best and be willing to put your child before you."
In her recent letter for TIME, Jolie argued that, along wanting parents to be honest, children often want to help. The actor and mom of six claimed a parent's weakness can ultimately enable their child to develop and nurture a complimentary strength. "The more room they have to be great where you are weak, the stronger they may become," she wrote. "They love you. They want to help you. So in the end, it's the team you build. And in a way, they are raising you up too. You grow together."
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all of Romper’s parents + coronavirus coverage here, and Bustle’s constantly updated, general “what to know about coronavirus” here.