Kelly Ripa's Take on Mothering
Talk show host Kelly Ripa weighs in on healthy kids, parenting that works, and family dynamics.
Raising Boys, Raising Girls
Parker praises this approach. "Setting limits without being overly
deterministic is a great strategy for kids. Allow children to choose, but give
them specific boundaries in which to do so."
In terms of the gender question, psychologist, sociologist, and five-time
Scholastic books author Adele M. Brodkin, PhD, who penned Raising Happy and
Successful Kids, says it's generally true that "girls like to talk and
conduct what's been described as ‘face-to-face' relationships, and boys like to
do and conduct ‘side-by-side' relationships. But the research shows that
differences are greater from child to child, rather than from gender to gender.
In other words, it's the luck of the draw: Both genetics and environment play a
role. Children are born with their own unique temperaments, and, individually,
you might have a very chatty boy and a more activity-oriented girl. It's only
within groups that we see them behaving more uniformly."
Parker agrees: "If [Ripa] had another five kids, let's see if she doesn't
get a nice, compliant girl" and a boy who pushes boundaries just like Lola
does, he speculates.
Still, Ripa wonders how she'll handle her exceptionally articulate daughter
in a crisis. "This is New York. There could be a terrorist attack. And I can
just see me having to debate with Lola about why we have to leave right this
minute. I've literally had to say to her: ‘Honey, if there's an emergency, you
don't have the liberty to argue with Mommy, OK?'"
Kelly Ripa's Parenting Challenges
Ripa, who famously juggles family life with a high-profile career -- and for
years acted on a soap (All My Children) or a sitcom (Hope &
Faith) in addition to her morning show duties -- loves being a mom, even if
by her own admission she's a much stricter and more structured parent than her
"I grew up in the suburbs. ... There was so much less stimulation then, more
freedom. And we were content with less. Kids today are so much savvier. ... I
remember getting one of those huge boom boxes at 16 and thinking I was cool.
Even Lola wants a cell phone and an iPod; all the kids do. It's much tougher on
In this era of tech excess, Brodkin advises that Ripa and all parents
maintain "the courage of their own convictions." In other words, "Make sure
you're not succumbing to peer pressure from other parents who are giving their
kids these things. ... And remember: What feels right generally is right. Trust
yourself if you want to say 'no.'"
So what, according to Ripa, makes for a "good mom"? "I wish I had the
answer. ... I get advice from both my mother and mother-in-law all the time.
But I think the most important thing is to remember to be a parent and not a
friend. My kids know I'm not their BFF.
"Basically, it's my philosophy that doing the easy thing in the short term
makes it harder for parents in the long run. Giving in when you want to say
'no' quiets things down momentarily, but you'll just have more of the same --
and then some -- down the road," says Ripa. "I'm big on letting my kids know
exactly what to expect. I think children are consistency junkies; they need
schedules and parameters, and it's up to us to provide them. My kids understand
that we love them no matter what -- and they also know that 'no' means no."