'Little People, Big World' star Tori Roloff on parenting on camera: 'I've been judged every minute of my life for how I raise my kids'

Tori Roloff opens up about her past miscarriage and adjusting to life as a mom of three. (Photo: TLC; designed by Quinn Lemmers)
Tori Roloff opens up about her past miscarriage and adjusting to life as a mom of three. (Photo: TLC; designed by Quinn Lemmers) (TLC/Quinn Lemmers)

Welcome to So Mini Ways, Yahoo Life's parenting series on the joys and challenges of child-rearing.

Tori Roloff laughs when she's asked if parenting on camera is difficult.

"Oh, for sure," the reality star, who joined TLC's long-running Little People, Big World series about halfway into its 23-season run, says of raising kids with husband Zach Roloff with countless eyes taking in every move. "I think that I've been judged every minute of my life for how I raise my kids and what I do."

But the prospect of mom shaming hasn't scared off the former kindergarten teacher, she tells Yahoo Life. In fact, she and Zach — who was just a teen when cameras first turned up at his family's Oregon farm — relish the opportunity to share their lives with the greater world, particularly when it comes to parenting. They're both "nerds" about child psychology and different methods of child-rearing.

"It's more fun and more beneficial to share our life and not care about what people say about our parenting and what we do," the mom of three says. "I just can't worry about what everyone else thinks. We like to think we have something to do with how our kids behave ... [Parenting has] been a constant reflection of like, how can we be better? How can we help others? Sharing that with people has been really fun for us."

The show's 23rd season premiered on May 17 and sees the extended Roloff brood dealing with family drama and major upheavals. For Tori, who married into the reality TV family back in 2015, those changes have been especially significant: a move to Washington state, surgery for eldest son Jackson and a new pregnancy following a painful miscarriage in early 2021. She's since given birth to baby boy Josiah, now 1 month old, who joins Jackson, 5, and big sister Lilah, 2. The Roloffs recently announced that, like his siblings and father, Josiah has achondroplasia, a genetic condition resulting in dwarfism.

"Achondroplasia in our household is, like, such a normal thing, which is not typical in a regular household," says Tori, fresh from putting her newborn down for a nap. She notes that her family has had access to "so many resources," and while she follows her husband's lead when it comes to navigating the condition given his own experience, the professional photographer is also a firm believer in her own intuition as a mom.

"I feel like anytime my kids have been sick or had an issue, 'mom-tuition' is like a real thing," Tori says. "I think that when it comes to achondroplasia I definitely lean on dad, but 'mom-tuition' is a thing."

Her family has been "blessed" to not have encountered many health complications related to achondroplasia. One exception was Jackson's leg surgery last December, which was documented on the show.

"It got scary," she says. "I mean, obviously no parent ever wants to, like, see their kid wheeled away in a hospital bed and be standing there watching it all. I think that I was really lucky that I had Zachary with me; he's a very calm and logical person. He's been through similar situations, so he kind of knew, OK, this is what's gonna happen. And this is where we're gonna go. Having him there for me, emotionally, was huge. But then also, Jackson's just the most easygoing kid you've ever met. When he did get wheeled away, he was, like, watching Zootopia on a nurse's iPad. There was no stress from him whatsoever."

The family endured another health setback in March 2021 when Tori had a miscarriage six weeks into her third pregnancy, though it wasn't detected until her first ultrasound two weeks later. "It was just the hardest thing I've ever had to go through," she says of the "traumatic experience." Leaning on her loved ones helped her heal, while sharing her story on social media brought some sense of "closure."

"When it comes to social media, there was a part of me that was not talking about it," she says. "It just felt like I was ignoring it and I don't ever want to forget that baby. I don't ever want to forget what happened, because they are important. I think that so many women go through what we went through and I hope that me sharing that and coming out and putting that on social media helped women in some small way. I know it helped for me to not feel so alone.

"And I can't even tell you how many people came to me and said, 'thanks for sharing your story — here's my story,'" she adds. "You don't realize how many people close to you went through the same exact thing, but they never talked about it. For me, it was nice to hear that I wasn't alone in that experience."

Roloff (with husband Zach) calls motherhood
Roloff (with husband Zach) calls motherhood "the best job ever." (Photo: TLC/Discovery) (TLC/Discovery)

The Roloffs have since welcomed rainbow baby Josiah. Going from two kids to three has been an easier adjustment than going from one to two, Tori says. That's largely due to Jackson now being older and able to dress himself and help out, while Lilah dotes on her new baby brother like a "mother hen." Tori, meanwhile, is "trying really hard to stay present in the moment" as she cares for what she expects to be her and Zach's last baby.

While she admits she's "never been great at the infant stage," especially when she's sleep-deprived, motherhood has given Tori "purpose."

"Every single day I get up for my kids, and I get up to do things with them and for them," she says. "And I think it's taught me that I'm a lot more capable than I thought I was, especially when it comes to health issues or when your kids are sick or when you feel like you can't give any more. Motherhood has taught me that you can, and you will and you have to. It's the best job ever."

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