I'm not the type of person to idolize celebrities, and, it's funny, but the celebrity parent I admire the most and relate to the most is one I don't find especially talented. I love Angelina Jolie's parenting style and her absolute refusal to let the media scorn her "alternative" choices, but when it comes down to it… I honestly think she's a terrible actress! Nevertheless, I feel a strong kinship with Angelina. She's one of the few celebrity parents who I look at and think, "She's doing it right!"
Here are the things I love about Angelina Jolie's parenting style:
1. She knows blood, marriage, and skin color don't make a family.
I admire Angelina because her family is proof that a family can be any combination of genetic lineages and personal histories, and still be an amazing family. Three out of Angelina's six children were adopted and are a different race from their parents. Angelina still hasn't married her partner, Brad Pitt, but proves that commitment can exist without a wedding. Despite media mockery over a mixed-race, non-marital family, Angelina has raised all of her kids equally, with love. It's something that far few parents are doing.
2. She's not ashamed of who she is or who she has loved.
Bisexual women, and especially bisexual parents, face a lot of discrimination, and unfortunately it can come from both directions. Some have claimed that LGBT people shouldn't be allowed to have kids, and many people in the gay and lesbian community "erase" the presence of bisexual people as part of the community, especially if they are in long-term, heterosexual relationships. Angelina's okay being out and proud about her orientation. When asked if she was bisexual, she responded, "Of course. If I fell in love with a woman tomorrow, would I feel that it's okay to want to kiss and touch her? If I fell in love with her? Absolutely! Yes!" Her fearlessness about acknowledging her orientation will set a good example for tolerance and self-respect for her kids, even if all of them are heterosexual.
3. She helps all children in need.
Angelina Jolie is one of the most accomplished celebrity philanthropists, having donated millions of dollars and thousands of hours of volunteer labor to organizations that help to provide food, shelter, education, and medical care to children living in poverty throughout the world. Angelina's also known for her work in support of environmental conservation and the safety of refugees. How many other moms are doing so much to help the whole world -- not just their own kids?
4. She lets her children express themselves.
Angelina has come under fire several times because of the way she raises her daughter, Shiloh, who is a tomboy. Shiloh has very short hair, not unlike my own daughter, and stereotypically boyish interests, not unlike my own daughter, and, like me, she's been criticized quite a bit for her willingness to let her child express herself. Whether my daughter is just going through a phase (or whether Shiloh is), I believe that we owe no one any apologies for teaching out kids the value of fearless self-expression. Haters gonna hate.
5. She's got her priorities straight.
Despite having a busy career, constantly fending off the paparazzi, and being actively involved in humanitarian work, Angelina finds time to be a normal mom at the end of the day. In several interviews, she's talked about how she finds time for snuggling with all of her kids and how she makes family meal times a top priority. She also made the very difficult decision to undergo a preventative double mastectomy so her kids wouldn't lose her to breast cancer one day, and she was then brave enough to be public about it, setting an excellent example for her kids that health, family, and support are more important than vanity. How many other moms are able to be such great parents, even when we aren't as busy as Angelina and Brad?
What celebrity supermom do you look up to the most?
Juniper Russo is a freelance writer and work-at-home mom. When she's not busy taking care of her eccentric five-year-old daughter and her two rambunctious pets, she writes about a diverse array of topics including health, environmentalism, parenthood, and science.