Having survived an unusual and challenging childhood in the spotlight, model mom Brooke Shields says she is trying hard to learn from the past when she makes decisions about how to raise her own daughters Rowan, 6, and Grier, 3. In the January 2010 issue of Good Housekeeping, the Lipstick Jungle star opens up about her difficult relationship with her mother, her philosophies on parenting and the golden rule she teaches her girls.
“As the classic child of an alcoholic, I was the caretaker,” Brooke says of her childhood with her mom Teri, who controlled Brooke’s career and life with an iron fist. “I should have been a disaster.” Now a mom herself to two beautiful daughters, Brooke, who is married to producer Chris Henchy, seems very conscious of the lessons she is teaching them.
“I don’t want my children to be subjected to that kind of caretaking. It’s nice for them, but it’s harder for me,” she says, going on to describe some recent drama in the Shields-Henchy household when Rowan shoved her little sister Grier, who was in the middle of a preschooler tantrum.
“I said to Rowan, ‘You know I love you, but when you do things like that repeatedly, it actually makes me not like you. I don’t know what to do with that, because I’m your mom. So can you help me out? And let me just ask you this: Does it feel good in your stomach, when you’re doing that to your sister?’ She said, ‘No.’ I said, ‘So we know it doesn’t make me feel good; it doesn’t make you feel good. Is there an alternative? You know, I’m not asking you to be more mature than you should be. You are a kid. But there are some things you just can’t do.’”
Admitting she’s the “bad cop” in the parenting partnership, Brooke says there is just one golden rule that she strictly enforces: “If my girls are rude, it’s over. There is no place in the world for it.” Her latest challenge? Rowan’s “teenage-style attitude.”
“I said to my husband, ‘You have to get her to stop rolling her eyes at me.’ If I can’t get her to stop at 6, how will I get her to not smoke crack and get pregnant at 13? If my word isn’t important to her now, my word won’t matter later.”
Though she is a very hands-on mom, Brooke thinks that it’s the quality of the time spent with your kids that matters more than the quantity, saying, “It’s not about being perfect; it’s about being engaged.”
“I’m so adamant that being a really good parent does not mean you have to be there 24/7,” the busy mom explains. “I find that I’m never not thinking about where they are, but instead of it stressing me out, it comforts me to know that I’m completely aware of their schedule, and they’re with someone I trust.”