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There are many ways to parent children and it may differ from one family to another. In Jennifer Garner's case, for instance, her unique approach to motherhood works wonderfully well for her family. The actor, who shares three children -- Violet, 17, Seraphina, 14, and Samuel, 11 -- with ex-husband and 'Gone Girl' actor Ben Affleck, said she doesn't believe in smothering her children, but instead offering them some amount of "benign neglect".
The '13 Going on 30' star was recently in conversation with Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager on Today, when she was asked about her parenting style. Garner said she avoids helicopter-parenting, adding, "I don't know that I have some overarching philosophy. I just think they are such cool people and I want to hear everything, and I want to be around. But I also think it is okay if they suffer from a little bit of benign neglect.
"Their lives are their own. I am not trying to live their life, and I don't mind that they see that I love mine," the 51-year-old said while chatting with the hosts on November 28.
In a blog post on goodtherapy.org, published January 23, 2013, Erika Myers noted that the birth of her son made her realise that if she ever wanted to take a shower again, she was going to "have to let him cry it out for a time".
"This was very hard, but it was an important first step in my parenting journey that led me to embrace the art of benign neglect. It soon became clear to me I would not physically be able to attend to my child's every need every moment of the day. He would have to wait sometimes. He would have to entertain himself sometimes. He would have to delay gratification," the expert wrote, adding: "This wasn't a conscious parenting choice; it was just our reality. As it turns out, it was a pretty good thing."
As the name suggests, benign neglect refers to parents leaving their kids to figure things out and entertain themselves, ignoring them even as they throw a tantrum or two, while the parents focus on other more important tasks that are high on their priority list, such as work-related assignments, domestic chores, etc.
Earlier this year, Garner had opened up about a strict parenting rule that she makes her children follow. The mother-of-three was quoted as telling Today that her kids are not allowed to use social media. "I just said to my kids, 'Show me the articles that prove social media is good for teenagers, and then we'll have the conversation. Find me scientific evidence that matches what I have that says that it's not good for teenagers. Then we'll chat'."
Garner and Affleck settled their divorce in 2018. The couple has been co-parenting their children. Affleck went on to marry Jennifer Lopez in 2022, after they rekindled their romance a year prior to that.