Even an experienced mom still wants to get it right, which is why Jessica Alba makes sure she puts a lot of thought into the advice she gives—both to her own children and to fellow moms. In an exclusive interview with Motherly, the co-founder and CCO of The Honest Company and mom of three shares some of the lessons she’s learned through motherhood.
Alba knows that the challenges of parenting never stop—they just shift with each new phase of life. Her experience as a mom is what motivates her to encourage new moms to think of the bigger picture.
“No matter what age, or stage or your child is in, you never stop parenting,” she tells Motherly. “The challenges and lessons you learn, as you’re growing and evolving, are what prepare you for the next stage your child is entering.”
Mom to daughters Honor, 13, and Haven, 10, and son Hayes, who is three, she also knows the importance of recognizing each child for the individual they are.
“How they develop, how they process information, what kind of parenting they respond to—it’s all very different.”
Raising digitally native children has its perks, no doubt. Parenting young teens and tweens in the age of social media presents the usual challenges—bullying, freely sharing information of all kinds—but it also creates a divide in the way younger generations communicate. Like most moms of big kids, teens, and tweens, Alba’s older kids, Honor and Haven, are well-versed in all things technology.
As we all know (millennial moms, I’m looking at you), talking to other people on your various devices is a common (and often preferred) way of building relationships. But to Alba, the art of really communicating, human to human, is still a vital life skill that kids today need to learn.
“Real-life interactions and creating real relationships in person is something that’s kind of foreign to them,” she says. “We have to almost, like, push them to not just communicate their feelings through text messaging and actually to talk to people, to use their voice and communicate that way.”
When it comes to delivering actual parenting advice, Alba’s calm and confident approach to motherhood comes from years of experience.
“When you’re going through it the first time, everything feels overwhelming,” she says. “I think we put so much pressure on ourselves to have the perfect plan and wonder at every stage ‘Is my baby doing this thing at this stage like all the other babies are doing?'”
She says at the end of the day, they all figure it out on their own time—and it’s important not to lose sight of that, even when you’re in the thick of it.
“Don’t put so much pressure on yourself when it comes to milestones, or compare your baby to other babies,” she says. “And remember, what works for one family is going to be so much different than what works for another family.”
While we all need and deserve to feel supported in our choices, there isn’t a mom alive who hasn’t felt shamed or judged in some way, at some point, by someone. So what do we do if someone in our circle hurts us in this way?
“If you’re feeling shame in any way with some of your choices because of someone in your life, then remove yourself from that friend group or remove yourself from those conversations because it’s just not helpful,” Alba says. “It’s not going to help you be better tomorrow. Move on.”
It’s solid advice. People who truly love you are supposed to enhance your life, not make things worse—and that’s something I also know from my own experiences.
Alba’s ability to connect with others is, arguably, one of the many reasons The Honest Company is so successful. The company is currently in the middle of its 10th year, and there isn’t a single mom—expecting, new, and seasoned—who isn’t familiar with their products.
Being able to give back to communities that lack social and financial support is not just a tenet of her company, but something Alba herself takes seriously.
“There are so many people who were born in unfortunate circumstances and young people living in poverty,” she says. “And how would we want to be treated if we were in those circumstances? And I just always try to live my life that way. So when I was building this business, I wanted to integrate a non-profit or charity.”
The Honest Company has charitably partnered with Baby2Baby, a nonprofit organization providing essential items to children in need across the country, since 2012. Since then, they’ve donated countless volunteer hours and more than 26 million products to children and families in need across the country. In honor of a near-decade of partnership, The Honest Company is matching their diaper and wipes bundle subscriptions—for every subscription purchased, one bundle will be delivered to a family in need.
It was clear to me during our interview that the parenting lessons Alba’s learned and the advice she shares come from an earnest place. She carefully considers each question before she answers it—not because she doesn’t know what to say, but because she genuinely cares about the information she’s sharing with fellow moms. She may not have all the answers, but she wants to get them right.
Finally, because I was curious as a mother of two who doesn’t plan on having more kids but still wonders “what if?” every so often, I asked her which was hardest; going from zero kids to one, one to two, or two to three? Because first-time parenthood is about as overwhelming as it gets as you try to adjust, but adding more kids to the mix leaves less time (and patience) for anything else.
“Zero to one. Definitely.”
(For the record, I agree.)
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