Laura Dern explains why she doesn’t punish her teenage children

·2 min read
Laura Dern explains why she doesn’t punish her teenage children (A.M.P.A.S. via Getty Images)
Laura Dern explains why she doesn’t punish her teenage children (A.M.P.A.S. via Getty Images)

Laura Dern has opened up about parenting teenagers and why she no longer punishes her children when they’ve done something wrong.

The Big Little Lies star, who shares son, Ellery, 19, and daughter Jaya, 16, with ex-husband Ben Harper, discussed her parenting techniques while speaking with Today, where she revealed that she has found asking for input from her children to be more effective than punishment.

“A very wise person advised me to ask my children: ‘How do you think I should handle this?’ As opposed to ‘You’re grounded.’ Or ‘you’re losing phone privileges,’” Dern told the outlet. “You want to try and have a real dialogue around consequence.”

According to the 54-year-old, she has found that her children have become more “accountable” and more honest with her as a result of the tactic, while acknowledging that previous attempts at punishment “didn’t always work out so well”.

“Not shaming them by declaring punishment, I think that’s one of the reasons they are so honest with me,” Dern revealed.

By fostering a chance for open conversations, Dern said that she is able to learn more about her children, and parent them more effectively, as the actress said she learned to listen closely to what the teenagers are saying even when it is “buried in a larger conversation”.

“You need to really learn to listen to what your kid is saying, buried in a larger conversation,” she claimed, using a conversation about E-cigarettes as an example. “You know when they’re like: ‘my friend is using E-cigarettes, and she says it’s, like, totally safe. I would never do it, but my friend says it’s cool.’ There’s good chance that they’re the ‘friend.’”

While Dern says she has been successful with the parenting technique, she has also previously opened up about the difficulties of being a single parent. In 2019, while speaking to Boston Common, the Little Women star said: “On the hard days, it’s stressful and there is too much going on as a single parent - and it can be hard to carve out a minute for yourself.

“​​I have never had anybody else bully me in my single parenting life. I am lucky to have champions around me, but I can definitely do it to myself.”

The same year, Dern also spoke candidly about being open about her own mistakes with her children, telling InStyle “the more I learn about my mistakes as a mother, the deeper I enjoy how fully I love my children,” as it means she feels comfortable letting them know “I really screw up sometimes”.

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