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9 Strict Rules Reese Witherspoon Makes Her Kids Follow

Photo: Lev Radin / Shutterstock / Instagram 
Reese Witherspoon, Ava Phillippe, Deacon Phillippe, Tennessee Toth

In 1999, at the age of 23, actress Reese Witherspoon welcomed her first child, daughter Ava, with her ex-husband, Ryan Phillippe.

Four years after the birth of her daughter, the couple welcomed their second child, son Deacon. Eventually, Phillippe and Witherspoon separated in 2006, and the "Big Little Lies" actress went on to marry Jim Toth in 2011.

The following year, Witherspoon gave birth to her third child, son Tennessee.

Throughout her journey of motherhood, Witherspoon has been candid about her parenting style and raising children in the spotlight.

A source told US Weekly in 2018 that the actress is a "good mother" and is "always honest with her kids," adding, “They feel comfortable talking to her about anything. She’s equally involved in all of their lives.”

Here are 9 strict rules Reese Witherspoon makes her kids follow.

1. She is brutally honest with her children.

In a 2018 interview with Fast Company, via Yahoo, Witherspoon revealed that she doesn't sugarcoat anything when it comes to telling her children the truth.

“I feel like I’m constantly counteracting pressure from the parents who want to make the lives of their kids golden and magical at all moments!” she said. “Guess what, kids? You’re going to be disappointed and uncomfortable once in a while.”

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She also detailed a specific moment that happened with her daughter Ava, saying, "I remember Ava crying in bed in third grade—she was on JV basketball and she was the only kid on the team who didn’t score. I said, ‘Aves, maybe you’re bad at basketball.’ She thought that was mean. I said, ‘Mean or true? ‘Cause, guess what? Your mom’s bad at basketball, too.”

2. Reese wants her children to explore different careers outside of Hollywood.

In an interview with InStyle, Witherspoon shared that she's conscious of making sure her children are exposed to as many career paths as possible, emphasizing that Hollywood can be a bubble.

"As a teenager, you only know what you know in the world. You don’t know what it’s like to work in a foreign country or to be in medicine or science," she said. "I have friends in a lot of different fields, so I try to surround my kids with people who have incredible experiences in other industries. We can get really isolated here in Hollywood."

3. Her relationship with her children has changed since they've become teenagers.

While speaking with Conan O'Brien, Witherspoon was asked whether she's a strict or easygoing mother, answering that it's changed since her children were small.

"I guess I’m kind of strict about stuff, but it’s funny, once you start to have teenagers, and they become more adult, and you have these relationships that emerge with them," she said. "My daughter said the other day, ‘It’s like we look like Dad, but we got our weirdness from you.'”

4. Her Southern roots play a part in how she disciplines her children.

In Witherspoon's interview with O'Brien, the actress also revealed that because she was raised according to Southern traditions, she has also passed that down to her children.

"When I get really mad, I get really Southern,” she told O'Brien. “I’ll give you a ‘sit-to’ which just means you have to sit down and listen to what I have to say. If you really make me mad, then I give you ‘what-for,’ which is a whole other thing you don’t want to get involved in…"

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"My daughter says the other day — she’s born in California, but she said, ‘And I gave that person a sit-to, and I told them what-for.’ It’s seeping in, I’m so excited!”

5. She taught her children to respect their elders.

In a 2009 interview with People, Witherspoon spoke about how she expects Ava and Deacon to show others respect, and the proper way to address adults.

"I grew up in Nashville and my parents taught me to respect my elders. We’d say things like ‘yes, ma’am’ and ‘no, sir’ to adults. But kids in Los Angeles don’t do that. I’ve drawn the line at my children calling adults by their first names. I tell them they can call people ‘Miss Shannon’ or ‘Miss Heather’ but that using only first names is too familiar. Maybe I’m just old-fashioned.”

6. It's all about structure with Reese, not discipline.

While speaking to People, the "Legally Blonde" actress explained that she provides her children with structure instead of being extremely strict.

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"We just want to know when we’ve done something right or wrong. That’s what I’m trying to teach my own children,” Witherspoon said, adding that she takes her time to balance praise with discipline in a respectful manner.

7. Reese is very strict when it comes to who her daughter dates.

According to Popdust, a source claimed that Witherspoon takes it upon herself to implement a strict process when it comes to boys that want to date her daughter Ava.

"Ava is a gorgeous girl and guys are going crazy over her," the source said. "But Reese wants to have a say over who she dates. She wants to meet the guy first, then basically interview them to make sure they are up to par."

"[Ava would] love to tell her mom that she's being ridiculous, but that's not really an option. And it's not like she can get away with lying to her—Reese has spies everywhere, and Ava is starting to get paparazzied everywhere she goes."

8. There are rules when it comes to doing chores around the house.

In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Witherspoon joked that she is constantly nagging her children to clean around the house.

"We have rules around the house. I always say if you aren’t yelling at your kids you’re not spending enough time with them. Just telling everybody to clean up all the time. I feel like I’m always telling people to clean up. ‘Clean up, clean up, put your dishes in the dishwasher, put your clothes in the laundry, come on now.”

9. She made sure her children knew the value of money from a young age.

In Witherspoon's interview with People, the actress explained that she was slowly teaching her children the value of money and the importance of making financial decisions.

"I give each of the kids five dollars when we go to the farmer’s market on the weekends,” she explained. “They can buy something, save it, or spend part of it and save the rest. My son is just like me: The minute he gets the money, he spends it all on something delicious. But my daughter will go around the market for a half hour weighing the possibilities until she buys one thing.”

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Nia Tipton is a writer living in Brooklyn. She covers pop culture, social justice issues, and trending topics. Keep up with her on Instagram and Twitter.

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