Nicole Richie on parenting styles: ‘There’s no one right way to be a mother’

Nicole Richie and Joel Madden arrive at the 2016 G'Day Los Angeles Gala at Vibiana in Los Angeles, California
Nicole Richie, 34, has been with Joel Madden for ten years (they’ve been married for six) and they have two children together, daughter Harlow, eight and a half, and son Sparrow, seven. She has a new video interview with People Magazine, I think to promote her husband’s reunion tour with his band, Good Charlotte, because that’s the only project they mention. It was funny to hear her say her children’s names out loud, since they’re not typical names I’ll just say that. People’s interview focuses on Richie’s home life and thoughts on parenthood. Unlike a lot of her celebrity mom contemporaries (see: Jennifer Garner, Gwyneth Paltrow, et al), Richie does not take a stand in the mommy wars. She’s not trying to say you shouldn’t feed your kids non-organic food or that motherhood is the pinnacle of her life. Richie sees her friends take different approaches to parenting and says that they all get along fine and no one judges each other.

How do you promote your kids’ style?
I do not dress my kids, they dress themselves. Sparrow is a boy so he does his own thing. He likes to wear all black like his dad. My daughter has very much her own style. It’s sometimes like mine… she’s a little sportier and she likes to experiment with different looks. I’m totally fine with that. I don’t want to be over her controlling what she looks like. Ultimately that is up to her

What is the most important thing a parent has taught you?
I’m so lucky I have such great mom friends. I had kids very young so I only knew two people that had kids. They are best friends. They parent like opposite. It was really so refreshing to see two women that have such different parenting styles maintain a friendship and not judge each other.

There’s not one way to raise children. There’s not one way to be a mother. It really depends on your house and your lifestyle. I guess the biggest lesson that I learned is to not judge and to be open and honest with other women. That really helps them to relax and know that they’re not alone.

[From People]

Richie was 26 when she had her kids, which is the average for first time mothers in the US and isn’t particularly young, but I could see how it would seem to be when most of your friends are childless. (None of my friends were having kids that young either.) You know who has said something similar about judgy moms? Jessica Alba, surprisingly. Last year she said that it feels “like the mean girl thing from high school sort of just transforms into adulthood through motherhood.” Richie is focusing on the positive she sees in her friends with different parenting styles. I imagine that there’s a lot of mommy judging going on among that crowd, where women have more resources and time to devote to it. Many other moms are just trying to get by.

Richie doesn’t post many photos or videos of her kids but I found this dubsmash video she posted for Father’s Day with Joel and their kids last year.

Happy Fathers Day!

A video posted by @nicolerichie on

Goldie Hawn Hosts Annual Goldie's Love In For Kids

photos credit: WENN, Pacific Coast News and Getty

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39 Responses to “Nicole Richie on parenting styles: ‘There’s no one right way to be a mother’”

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  1. ell says:

    ‘Richie was 26 when she had her kids, which is the average for first time mothers in the US and isn’t particularly young’

    is so odd that is the average though, i’m 27 and i only know one person my age who has kids and she also says all the other mums are much older than her. from what i see most first time parents seem to be around 30+. i’d consider being a parent at 26 quite young.

    • Mgsota says:

      I was 26 when I had my first child and never considered myself a “very young” mom. I think of 17/18 when I hear that. Which is too young!
      I had my second child when I was 35. I definitely think I was one of the older moms during classroom activities.

    • Tate says:

      I think the average age is more around 30. I have friends who became moms in their mid 20’s and friends who became moms in their late 30’s. 26 seems a little low to be the average.

      • Jan says:

        There are enough teen pregnancies out there that really pulls down the average. It also depends on what part of the country you are from. I’m from a tiny Midwestern town. My high school class was 70 people, and at 28, I am one of the last ones to not have children.

      • I think in more affluent areas mothers tend to be older. She lives in Hollywood/Beverly Hills where I think most people try to get a successful career going before they have kids. So I can see her, at 26, being the youngest mom in that area. I was 32 when I had my first and 40 with my last and I’m younger than most of my older children’s friends’ parents. I’m just about the same age as my youngest son’s friends parents. So in the San Francisco Bay area I would guess most first time mothers are in their late 30’s. Many of my coworkers are first time mothers after age 40.

    • Locke Lamora says:

      In Croatia the average age is 27, but most women I know have their first kid later. 26 is young to me. I’m 24 now and can’t imagine having kids in 2 years. In 10 years is more likely.

    • Dani says:

      I had my first kid at 23, and all my friends 23-26 already had at least one, if not two kids by then. I think it really depends where you’re from/cultural upbringing etc.

      • Bluebelle says:

        Me too Dani. Where I live if at 30 you don’t have a child then you must now want them. It’s relative to cultures and your surroundings.

      • thaliasghost says:

        Definitely depending on culturual upbringing/surroundings. Where I am, having a kid at 23 would signify “lower class”, mid 30s is the age where women mostly have children.

        I read a book recently where a woman had a child very young, I think she was about 18 or 19. She worked at an upper class hotel in New York state and brought her daughter to work and as thus was looked down on. She returned to her lower class neighborhood in the UK where teenage pregnancies where pretty common.

        One interesting place where having kids very young did NOT denote lower class was former Eastern Germany. The childcare system was amazing, so were the family laws which were very women friendly and society embraced women being independent and having children at the same time. To this day, Eastern German women culturally tend to have children at an earlier age than Western German women.

  2. Sixer says:

    I actually agree with her. There’s more than one (right) way to be a parent. You can be strict or laid back. Pushy or relaxed. You can be insistent on some things and laissez faire on others. You don’t have to do it like other people do it. The only thing that really matters is consistency, so that your kids know pretty much where they stand.

  3. Lora says:

    I love her, she’s grown so much since her paris hilton days

    • MrsBPitt says:

      I agree…who would have thought that she would have turned into such a mature, level headed woman!

  4. Sara says:

    I’m a teacher and whenever something is wrong with a kid people blame the mother. The mothers blame themselves. Where are the fathers? Why are men so free of constant guilt? I’m glad Nicole and other parents are helping each other and supporting their choices but I wish this was called the parents’wars and not just the mommy wars.

  5. Cdoggy says:

    She looks like Cameron Diaz’s child in that picture. Cameron looks like a gigantasaurus next to Nicole.

  6. Nev says:

    Love her!!!

  7. Jayna says:

    Sparrow is a horrible name for a boy.

  8. Louise says:

    I love the dogs in the background thinking what the? ha ha

  9. Gippy says:

    I’d say 26 is average based off the whole country. I’m from a smaller city and many of those who didn’t go away to college, had kids after high school. I went away to college and of friends there only 1 of the 10 of us has kids yet and we’re 29. I think the age of motherhood is increasing in recent years as women become more independent and career focused. I see this trend even in my home town. I think we’ll see that average increasing as teen pregnancies is decreasing.

  10. Olivita says:

    Cannot lie, I love Nicole! She seems (from what little I know) like a great mom. I always wonder if she’s in recovery though? She was addicted to heroin and went to rehab but she never really discusses her sobriety or recovery. Kinda interesting imo. I believe she still drinks and all that. I think it’s pretty rare for heroin users to just up and quit without an ongoing recovery plan. Not judging either way, just wondering aloud 🙂

    • manda says:

      I was wondering the same thing. It seems that it has been years since she’s had problems, so she must have it under control. Perhaps NA or AA, or maybe her hubbie is really supportive. I remember Peaches Geldoff seemed like she had everything, and then OD’d, but her abuse had been so much more recent in her life. I’m guessing Nicole must have really made some changes in her life, which is fairly obvious by reviewing the gossip coverage of her over the years. I absolutely LOATHED her when she first “came out” — she and Paris were just AWFUL human specimens in that simple life show, but it seems like Nicole has really grown up

    • Red says:

      I was a heroin addict and I quit cold-turkey and never looked back aside from when I found a tiny smidge in an old purse 6 months later and used it that one time. It’s been almost nine years. Not a single slip up since. I won’t even take anything stronger than an ibuprofen! Never been to a single therapist, religious group, or NA meeting. People are just wired differently. Some spend their whole lives circling back around and spiraling down. Some are able to see what a disgusting life that is and simply shed it like a skin. Nicole may be more the latter, like me!

      That video of Joel and the kids is TOO CUTE.

      • Ccinkissimmee says:

        Good for you Red. I’m sure it hasn’t been easy but it’s great you have been strong enough to stay away from such a tough habit.

      • J. says:

        Me too, Red. I struggled with drug addiction in my early twenties (at the same time as Nicole, actually) and haven’t looked back since I quit. My motivation was becoming a mother at 25, which I suspect helped Nicole stay focused as well. I have so much more to lose now that drugs just don’t appeal to me at all. They say the opposite of addiction is connection, and I have my husband and kids to fill that disconnect now.

  11. Classy and Sassy says:

    I like Nicole Richie.

  12. maria 2 says:

    Look at the dogs! <3 I like her approach to parenthood.

  13. kri says:

    Wow,, she looks really lovely. I like her face-very interesting. Not a cookie cutter look. And she is right. It seems like good parents tailor their style or adjust it if need be. Also, no two kids are the same-they respond differently to the same situation. Yikes, I don’t know how you parents do it. Hats off.

  14. Becki says:

    I agree, moms & dads parent according to their kids & even then it can differ within a family. I was 27 when I had my first kid(s) and that was about average for me & my friends. I think it’s a good age to begin having kids!!

  15. EEV says:

    I was 34 for my first and will be 36 for my second. I feel old and wish I had had kids younger, but maybe closer to 30, not 26.

    • Willa says:

      Me too. Had my first at 35 & want another one but I’m 37 now and feel too old. Wish I had mine earlier too.

  16. Lucy says:

    Who would have thought Nicole would become such a woman? She sounds really pragmatic and mature, and I love her approach to parenting. I wish her and her family well.

    • Peanutbuttr says:

      Both Nicole and Paris seem to have grown up. We don’t hear too much about either these days.

    • thaliasghost says:

      On the other hand….she had a lot of help. Imagine she would have had to do the same without the financial resources she had? Worrying with her qualifications how to secure a job to pay the rent and put food on the table? With two kids. We are overlooking a lot here that is not given to “normal” people.

  17. Dani says:

    I love Nicole! I follow her snap and she posts the best fashion stuff and she’s actually so funny and just chill. She’s very private about her kids though, never posts them. She just did an ‘interview’ with her dad which was soo cute!!

  18. Happymama says:

    I was 26 when I had my first last year and it is young. The moms I hang out with are in their mid thirties and low fourties. But my husband and I married right after college and had the whole party/travel lifestyle out of our systems early. It’s nice because if we decide to have a bigger family, we can (one of reasons I have heard several moms regret not to have started earlier).

  19. Kitkatk8 says:

    I find her snarky humor interesting and enjoyable – although sometimes borderline mean – she jokes about herself quite a bit so it always seems to even out. She’s quick witted and probably bright…..I also think she’s so beautiful. However she is sooooo thin!! The baggy clothes do a good job of covering it up, but hopefully she is healthy…

    ETA: judgey moms are everywhere just like anything else – someone’s always trying to one up you! Whenever I get a Judgey mom trying to humble brag or tell me how much better she is, I just say “that’s so wonderful for you! You should write it in the baby journal so you can tell your little one all the incredible ideas you had!” Usually shuts them up one way or another.

  20. B2C says:

    I had my first twins at 21 my second at 26. I’m 47 now. While I agree it sounds young I was ready. I was also lucky in that I was able to be a stay at home mom until they were all in school. I 100% agree though that you raise your children differently depending on their needs. My youngest who is 21 now is on the autistic spectrum and I never could have raised him like I did my twins. And all being said I’m so happy I had them young. I will be caretaking for my youngest for a lot longer and had I waited the time with him would be shorter.

  21. Pandy says:

    Doesn’t she have a TV show coming out this fall? Did I dream seeing an ad about this?

  22. Ewissa says:

    I had my first one when 33 and now Im thinking maybe its too late for second one.And as mentioned above I do feel old…I mean my boy is very lively and sometimes I just dont have that energy or I can’t be that careless as my mom friends that are in their late 20s and already having 2 kids…
    Sometimes friend says why didnt you come to park we can have coffee and chill -yes she is sitting on bench chilling when her 6 yr old is looking after her 2 yr old and Im chasing my 2yr old non stop for 4 hours as he has different ideas of play as other kids…I think 26 is good age for having first child but that time I wasnt mature and ready to have mine …