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Kelly Ripa's Take on Mothering

Talk show host Kelly Ripa weighs in on healthy kids, parenting that works, and family dynamics.

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 mother was.

"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 parents now."

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."

Kelly Ripa on Setting Limits for Children

Parker's views are right in league with Ripa's: "Kids need to know you're there to direct them. It's a mistake to indulge their every whim," the child expert says. "And now kids are exposed at a younger age to more sophisticated issues. It's so important to monitor what they are doing and to discuss the pressures they're up against. Take the Internet. Parents should never allow kids to surf the Net without supervision. Guide them and set limits. They won't like it. But you wouldn't allow a young child to walk down the street alone. We need to be equally critical when it comes to online safety."

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