Tia Mowry, her husband Cory Hardrict, and their 4-year-old son Cree. (Photo: Jeffrey Mayer/Getty Images)
You may remember Tia Mowry as the straight-edge teen Tia Landry, her character from the 1990s television show Sister Sister, which she starred in with her real-life twin sister Tamera Mowry. But the 37-year-old actress has come a long way from scrunchies, denim overalls, and floral hats — she’s currently starring as a party-girl-turned-stepmom on Nickelodeon’s Instant Mom and she’s the host of Tia Mowry at Home, a new show on the Cooking Channel. But her proudest role to date is mom — the married mother-of-one has a 4-year-old son Cree with husband Cory Hardrict. “I love making Rice Krispie treats for Cree,” Tia tells Yahoo Parenting. In an exclusive interview, Tia talks sleep training, pregnancy after endometriosis, and why she and Tamera escaped the child star curse.
Child stars don’t always have longevity. Why do you think you and Tamera are still successful?
People say child stars have a hard time ‘because of the entertainment business’ but I think there’s a dysfunction before all that. I use the analogy, ‘If you’re a fool without money, you’ll be a fool with money.’ Maybe acting wasn’t the sole cause of [the problem], but [rather] lack of support. I had an incredible support system. There’s a lot of focus on kids like Macaulay Culkin or others who had bad situations at some point in their careers and not enough focus on the people who do good like Natalie Portman or Claire Danes. It’s hard for children to have these full-time jobs with all this responsibility. My parents made sure we were kids, even though we made money and were quote unquote famous. We still had a curfew and an allowance.
Tia and Tamera Mowry with Jackée Harry (who played Tia’s adoptive mother) on their hit television show Sister Sister. (Photo: The WB)
How would you feel about Cree going into the entertainment industry?
People have suggested that he model but I want him to be a kid. I studied psychology in college so I know that the first five years of a kid’s life are so important. When Cree gets older and if he shows interest in taking pictures, then we’ll entertain it.
How are you and Tamera different when it comes to parenting styles?
I’m less traditional than Tamera — she doesn’t co-sleep and I do. I also never pushed my son to walk and I won’t do ‘cry it out’ [sleep training]. Cree only started sleeping in his own bed when he was three and a half. My husband was fine with that. Tamara is more by the book, like my own mom who says, ‘Why does Cree still have a bottle in his mouth?’ I say, ‘Mom, he’s not going to college with a pacifier or co-sleep when he’s a teen.’ But Tamara and I give each other advice and learn from each other.
Tia Mowry and her son Cree. (Photo: Instagram/Tiadmowry)
What’s your biggest challenge as the mother of a son?
I don’t like it when parents are so focused on gender stereotypes and say [to boys], ‘Don’t cry, you’re not a girl.’ I don’t want to take away Cree’s masculinity when he’s upset or aggressive. But, on the other hand, if he’s crying, I don’t say, ‘Don’t act like a girl.’ We don’t allow men to tap to into their feminine side. Whatever interests Cree, will interest him. As a parent, I am sensitive to his creative side and how he expresses himself and I don’t want to suppress his growth in those areas. Cree loves trains and planes but that may be because he’s traveled a lot, not because he’s a boy.
Did you really meet your husband at a bus stop?
No! But he says we did. We were working on a movie together and I [saw him at the bus stop] and offered him a ride home. (Cory, in the background pipes up, ‘You insisted!’) We dated for eight years before getting married and then waited three years to have a baby. We’ve always gone with the flow and embraced what was in front of us. We don’t put rules on our relationship.
Why did you want to host a cooking show?
I wanted to inspire and encourage families. The kitchen doesn’t have to be an intimidating place. I’m obsessed with food and dream about it! I think moms are more aware of what’s in their food [than ever before] and that food can trigger children’s emotions and even aspects of their personality. I had endometriosis and my doctor told me to change my diet so I quit dairy and processed food for a whole year. Then I got pregnant. That experience changed my life, so I made food and cooking a priority. I know parents don’t have time to cook, especially since most families need two working parents to survive. But it only takes one hour to prepare a meal. And whoever cooks doesn’t have to do the dishes.
What’s your go-to dinner?
Spaghetti and turkey meatballs. It’s not a delicacy and who doesn’t like it? I use whole wheat or quinoa noodles and for the meatballs, I use oatmeal as a binding agent, instead of breadcrumbs. I also hide spinach in them. Then I make two tomato sauces — a regular one for the kids and one flavored with wine for the adults.