Julia Roberts talks about how she juggles her career and family life, and how she protects her kids from the spotlight.
Mothers who raise children under constant scrutiny will always be different from mums far from the prying eyes of the public. So how does someone like Julia Roberts, one of the most famous people in the world today, do it? How does she accomplish a feat where she can just go “the kids can talk to me about anything”?
Along with her director husband, Danny Moder, Roberts has raised her children largely away from the public eye. The 12-year-old twins, Hazel and Phinnaeus, and their 10-year-old little brother, Henry, aren’t as easily recognisable as other celebrity children. So it’s safe to say the couple’s plan worked.
Julia Roberts Parenting: How she keeps it real
1. Not Julia Roberts, just Mum
Julia Roberts may be America’s sweetheart and an Academy Award-winning actress. To her children, she’s Mum.
She said in an interview in 2014 that at the time: “They don’t know what I do for a living. That hasn’t really entered their life yet. They are just little kids and I’m just their mom, so there’s no coping with anything.”
She figured that by the time they discover their mom’s status in the world, they’ll be teenagers who “have stuff in their lives that’s far more interesting than what their parents’ jobs are.”
Though they don’t know the full extent of how big of a deal their mum is, Roberts’ children still know she’s pretty special. Her stardom has no bearing on their relationship as mother and child. This provides a great environment where her kids can grow up without the baggage of their mother’s celebrity status.
Roberts spoke about this in an interview with Vanity Fair. She told them a story of how she was recognised in public while with her kids.
“It was on a crowded street, and somebody noticed me, and then another person noticed. Somebody said as we were walking past, ‘Oh, that’s Julia Roberts.’ We all just kind of kept going, and then Finn said, ‘Yeah, my mom’s Julia Robinson.’ That’s what gives you perspective. It could be Robinson, it could be Johnson, because it has nothing to do with me as a person.”
2. Having different dreams and goals
Roberts’ children show no interest in joining the world of movie-making or acting when they grow up. Roberts said in an interview on E! News that her children have shown an interest in music.
“I have a violinist, a cellist, and a trumpeter,” she said. She also said their top priority is their education, and they’re not going to sign any recording contracts in the near future, at least not yet.
“They just want to get through fifth grade math,” she joked. “That’s all that’s on their minds.”
3. Plan around your kids
After getting a $20 million dollar salary from the movie Erin Brokovich, you can say that set her up for life. Now, she can call the shots on which roles to take based on her children’s schedule.
If their schedules clash, she demands that they bring her children along to the shoot. During her shoot for the movie Eat, Pray, Love, “her husband and children were with her during the four months spent on location in New York, Rome, India and Bali,” according to The Mirror.
To be fair, Roberts has a great amount of freedom because of her privilege. But all parents should make as much time for their children as possible.
4. Keeping a low profile around the children
Whenever Julia Roberts goes out in public with her family, like watching her children participate in sports events, she tries to blend in with the crowd. She wears baseball hats, sunglasses, and clothes that keep her incognito.
If she’s spotted by a fan or two (or more), she simply and politely declines requests for autographs or photos, then kindly requests for her privacy.
5. Ensuring kids can talk about anything by having private family getaways
Julia Roberts and her family have a favourite place they can get away to so they can relax. They go to Taos, New Mexico, USA, where Julia and her husband Daniel married in 2002.
“When Daniel and I first started dating, we went there a lot,” Roberts mentions. “He feels the same way about New Mexico as I do; we love the quietude and enchantment, [and] now it’s a great place for the five of us to run around and be together.”
These family vacations help Roberts protect her family from the media, letting them spend time together as a family, and the kids can talk freely without fear of being watched.
6. Avoiding social media
It’s common nowadays to witness the children of celebrities grow up on their parents’ social media accounts. But today’s social media-centric lifestyle can be troublesome. Roberts and Moder avoid doing this by not signing up on Twitter and Instagram.
According to USA Today, Roberts “managed the impossible: taking her entire brood to Disneyland without generating any headlines.”
Roberts and her family were able to have an amazing day without the paparazzi hounding them, and the parents didn’t need to document it on social media.
“The strange culture of celebrity and the Internet age — I kind of am too old for that silly mess that goes on. I’m glad about that. It’s helped that I’m definitely of a particular age,” she said.
7. Drawing the line between public and private life
Roberts and her husband try to make an effort to keep the family together while doing their jobs. As much as possible, they keep this bubble where kids can talk and play without being watched or judged.
“We try to protect our kids,” she told USA Today. “We just want to have our family life and not have that intruded upon.”
8. Don’t spoil them
Julia Roberts’ kids can talk about anything and ask her anything, but they sure are not spoiled.
“I think some people confuse unconditional love with spoiling. None of my kids would think I have a problem with that distinction,” Roberts said.
“I do love them unconditionally, and I try, when they do something wrong, to say, ‘This doesn’t change the amount of love in this house for you, but you’ve got to do your homework.’ Because I think that also makes a child feel safe.”
9. Criticise less
“I think we need to stop criticising. Honestly, it’s become a sport – at lunch, online, wherever. ‘I can’t believe the way she’s wearing her hair,’ or ‘He looks so…’ It’s all so petty, and we’re grown-up people,” she shared in another interview.
“There have to be more interesting things to note about one another… and I’m talking to myself here too, because I find the sarcasm and the criticism and stuff like that very humorous, but there’s a time when you go, ‘Well, why don’t I say all the true and kind things.'”
10. Read to your kids
“It was getting tricky in my house to have a nighttime chapter book everyone would like, so I bought Wonder, and I could not put it down,” Roberts reveals. “I read it to the three kids, and they were all as knocked out as I had been. I remember calling my agent after I read the book and saying, ‘I’ll play the mom!'”
11. Let your kids talk about anything without judging them
Julia Roberts thinks parents should just let kids talk about anything without judgment, and just really listen. She knows that’s what she wanted as a child.
“I would probably talk more to my older sister about problems at school. Maybe my mum as she was cooking dinner, but it would not be the special sit-down time. She had a full-time job and a full house and lots of people to take care of,” she said.
“I think just to let your kids know that they can talk to you about anything without judgment. They want to just talk and not have it be emotional, I think.”
12. Be compassionate
Being a mother is no walk in the park. Even people of great renown, such as Julia Roberts, experience the joys and trials of motherhood. In spite of its hardships, motherhood should have, at its core, compassion. Listening without judgment and teaching children the true value of things in life might be a few of them. And if your kids can talk to you about absolutely anything, then you’re doing fine.