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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 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."

Which is just one concern among many, now that Michael is in double digits and this close to pushing for more independence and privacy. Is Ripa ready for what's also right around the corner -- adolescent angst? "Michael's only 10, so all that murky teen stuff hasn't happened yet. ... But we'll just keep doing what we're doing when it does."

Maybe she'll get lucky and have three teenagers like she once was. Esther Ripa reports that while her "bubbly, outgoing" daughter showed a normal degree of rebellion during those years back in the 'burbs of New Jersey, she remained dutiful even when she was misbehaving. "Once, Kelly called me up," her mother recounts, laughing at the memory, "and said, ‘Mom, all my friends are cutting class. May I, too?'"

Kelly Ripa's Pregnancies

Ripa may have "the dream job for a working mom" because her schedule allows for flexibility and afternoons off with her kids. But she must also endure the tabloids' announcing her marriage to Consuelos "is over every other week."

She adopts the tone of a hysterical entertainment reporter: "Kelly too thin! Marriage in trouble! Kelly's gained weight! Marriage over! Kelly won't have another baby! Mark wants a divorce!" She pauses and seems to take it all in stride. "None of it's true; we know that, and that's what counts. So you take the good with the bad and move on."

Does she care to comment on another famous mother who's dominated the headlines for the last year or so? "Poor Britney [Spears]. I feel for all parents, because we're all learning as we go. I'm just grateful I didn't have to learn under a magnifying glass."

Still, two of her three pregnancies were chronicled, inch for inch and pound for pound, on Live With Regis and Kelly. (For the record, she gained 69 pounds with her first, 55 with her second, and 50 with her third.)

Ripa says she had the "best pregnancies, followed by the worst deliveries." All three of them ended in C-sections, despite her desire to deliver without surgery. But what really surprised her, especially with her first one, "is that they actually let you take this little person home. With Michael, we knew nothing. ... Around the time he was born we'd just bought one of those widescreen TVs, which were new and all the rage then. And we walked out of the store with, like, a 6,000-page manual on how to work the thing. The hospital, on the other hand, gave us a one-page leaflet that said stuff like, ‘When the baby is hungry, feed him. When he's tired, put him to bed.' Incredible, right?"

But Parker wants parents to know it's OK not to have instructions. "All parents learn on the job. And all kids are different. The important thing is to discover your child, not invent them. They will reveal who they are with time, guidance, and love. And by the way, if you think you have control over your kids, you're in for a big surprise!"

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