Arguably contenders for the title of America’s Sweethearts, Blake Lively, and Ryan Reynolds keep their personal lives reasonably private. After having two daughters together – James and Inez – they’ve got some great tips when it comes to being parents.
Don’t tell girls they can do anything
This advice might sound counter-intuitive, given most of us want to empower our daughters. But in a Glamour interview, Blake Lively quoted comedian Sarah Silverman: “Stop telling little girls they can do anything. They already believe they can do anything. It opens the door for questions.”
Lively believes kids feel perfect until somebody tells them they’re not. So by telling girls they can do anything, it makes them question why they’ve been told that. She said in an interview: “There’s nothing I can teach my daughter [James]. She already has all of it. The only thing I can do is protect what she already feels.”
Don’t ‘label’ yourself as a parent
“It’s like every moment you’re figuring out what the heck you’re doing,” says Lively. “Ooh, should I be more strict, or should I be more – I don’t know – emotional? Or whatever it is.” She feels the only people who really have parenting figured out are grandparents. The rest of us work it out as we go along – so we should avoid tagging ourselves as a particular kind of parent.
Make sure one of you is always there
Both Reynolds and Lively have one very simple rule to help keep their relationship and family life ticking over. Reynolds explains: “We don’t allow our film schedules to overlap. We’re very conscious of being present as parents. I come from a big family, and so does Blake, and we want to create a warm and happy environment for our children.”
Sometimes, they’ll pack up as a family to go to a shoot – but only one of them will be working. Then it’s the turn of the other parent.
Dads should do the dirty work
When he appeared on Late Night with Seth Meyers, Reynolds said it was only fair dads got hands-on once their children were born. After all, their mum had already done the hard bit.
“Just do the dirty work, man,” he said. “You gotta do the diapers. You gotta do the middle-of-the-night thing. A human being will exit your wife, so she’s done enough.”
Don’t get hung up about ‘having it all’
Lively believes the idea of ‘having it all’ puts unrealistic pressure on every woman – not just mothers. Different people want different things, she explains. “Having it all could be having a happy, healthy family and you could be a mom who stays at home. Or it could be having a profession you really believe in, not having a family, and doing what fulfills you.”
For herself, Lively credits her mother for demonstrating how to balance motherhood with a career: “My mom had a career and five kids. We were just always there.” Her advice was not to compromise one fo the other. She told her daughter: “You can do both fantastically, and some days you’ll do both horribly. As long as you’re happy and give your family the love and attention they need, it all sort of falls into place.”
Don’t set unrealistic beauty standards
Lively’s daughters often see her looking perfect, wearing beautiful clothes, with immaculate hair and makeup. But the actress works hard to make sure they realise this is part of her job. It’s not how every woman in the world lives.
“For me, it’s important for my daughters to know it’s not real life. They’re seeing me dressed up in all this hair and makeup, but they also see me without that. I want them to see both sides.”