Reese Witherspoon Gets Real About Raising Three Kids: “No One’s Really Doing It Perfectly”

Reese Witherspoon on Southern Living Cover
Reese Witherspoon got candid about raising her three kids, Ava, Deacon, and Tennessee, in a new interview with Southern Living's Editor-at-Large Jenna Bush Hager. 

Bless her heart. Reese Witherspoon got candid about raising her three kids and handling her hectic work schedule in a new interview with Southern Living's Editor-at-Large Jenna Bush Hager.

"No one's really doing it perfectly," the Oscar winner and Nashville native, 39, said of parenting in the magazine's September 2015 cover story. "I think you love your kids with your whole heart, and you do the best you possibly can. But, you know, right now I’m feeling sad missing my little 2-year-old [Tennessee], and my daughter [Ava]’s about to finish her freshman year of high school, and my son [Deacon] has a golf tournament this weekend that I hope I don’t miss."

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Her children, however, are supportive. "There are some sacrifices you make, and it hurts your heart sometimes," the Draper James founder confessed. "But my kids tell me they’re proud of what I’ve accomplished, and that just means everything. I grew up with a working mom, and I have so much respect for the things she did as a nurse and a teacher. I would never begrudge her that."

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Jim Toth's wife of four years also has so much respect for her late paternal grandparents, whose names, Dorothea Draper and William James Witherspoon, inspired her new lifestyle brand. "It was a huge deal for me," the actress said of putting her family name on her business. "I was actually asked by several companies to just put my name on something, and I didn’t feel like that was appropriate. I hope my grandparents know how much I looked up to them. I truly believe that they look down on me and guide me in this life."

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Witherspoon said their values will remain with her forever. "They were strict but incredibly loving," she dished. "We had family dinner every night. That’s a big thing I learned from my grandmother—to spend time with your kids and listen to their dreams."

The same applies when it comes to disciplining and teaching good etiquette to Ava, 15, Deacon, 12, and Tennessee. "I make them write letters. Every gift gets a note or a drawing. It means so much when kids are appreciative," she shared. "My kids know when I’m serious. I get really Southern."

In fact, there's a tone that she uses to warn them. "Yes," Witherspoon joked. "'Ava Elizabeth Phillippe, get over here.' They know."

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Her parents have also instilled strong work and family values in her life. "I don’t know a weak Southern woman. My mom says if you want something done, then ask a Southern woman," Witherspoon shared. "There are a lot of old ideas about the South, but it’s a different time. I’m excited about the new South…. I don’t think I ever realized I’d be this busy. I just try to, as my dad says, 'Make hay while the sun shines.' There is so much growth in the South. Every time I come back to Nashville, there is a new restaurant or another amazing museum or another music club, and I thought, 'Wouldn’t it be interesting if someone could tap into those traditions that we grew up with?'"

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