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9 Celebrity Parents on How They Discipline Their Misbehaving Kids

Just because you're famous doesn't mean your kid is going to stop trying to choke out the dog.

GETTY; Fatherly Illustration

Moms and dads have been discussing and dissecting the ways they discipline their kids for decades. That discussion inevitably wanders around, loitering at buzzy phrases (“Permissive Parenting!“) and sprinting in the direction of the latest resentment. The long and the short: Discipline is immensely complicated. Substitute push-ups for time-outs, spanking for communication, and kindness for yelling, there will still be issues. And this is universal. Celebrity parents face the same challenges despite being, in many cases, extremely affluent and able to afford help. Is this their fault? Absolutely not. Raising kids is just a tough gig.

Lately, many famous parents have been more willing to speak publically about their struggle and their approaches to disciplining their kids. This is important: If we don’t speak about this stuff publically, we all make bad decisions privately. Also, some celebrities are pretty smart on the issue. How do these millionaires avoid raising entitled little rich kids? Well, let them explain.

Will Smith
‘We don’t do punishment. The way that we deal with our kids is they are responsible for their lives. Our concept is, as young as possible, give them as much control over their lives as possible. So when they do things — and you know, Jaden, he’s done things — you can do anything you want as long as you can explain to me why that was the right thing to do for your life… We don’t have rules. We come up with agreements. Kids are little people, and we’re in life to guide them. Trying to rule someone is always an illusion, and it’s no different with children.” — Will Smith, Metro UK

Mark Wahlberg
“I think the most important thing is to always be involved in every aspect of their life. To give them enough trust that they can share things with you. I don’t want them to be terrified of me, you know? But I don’t want them to think they can do whatever they want and get away with it, either, because they can’t. I can’t tell my kids to go to school and get an education if I don’t have a diploma. They’d start thinking, why do we need to go? You didn’t go and you turned out alright. But I’m proud to have it. If I want to go on and further my education and study film or whatever, I can do that.” – Mark Wahlberg, Esquire

Cate Blanchett
I don’t enjoy being the bad cop, but sometimes I have to be. My husband and I worry about our generation trying to be friends with their children rather than parents of their children. If you’re going to try and make your children like you, you’re in dangerous waters I think. … I think I’m pretty loving, but what I do know is that you have to let them talk and you have to listen. I hope that when they’re 15, they’re still talking as freely to us as now.” – Cate Blanchett, Yahoo

Ben Stiller
I’m not a good disciplinarian. I just don’t know where to go with it. I’ll say, ‘Don’t do that. If you do that, I’ll…Just don’t do that!’ I don’t have like, punishments, or anything. Or I’ll just go to a bad place with it too. Like [Ella] will get in a fight with [Quin] and I’ll take away the toy, and she’ll say, ‘That’s not fair,’ and I’ll just go right into, ‘Life is not fair. Bad things happen to good people. Welcome to the world!’ — Ben Stiller, The Tonight Show

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Tom Brady
It’s the worst. Well, it’s not the worst for me. I think it’s the worst for my wife, who’s trying to instill some discipline in [our daughter Vivian] and I just give her whatever she wants. But isn’t that what men are supposed to do for daughters? Yeah, there’s princesses, and My Little Pony dolls, and it’s just the cutest thing ever. But I’m the final ‘no.’ And once they hear dad say ‘No,’ they know it’s a permanent no.” — Tom Brady, Entertainment Tonight

Chris Pratt
“I’m a softie, but I’m also strict. It’s probably confusing for Jack. I’m probably the strict parent, but also pretty loving and affectionate as well. I think you’ve got to get respect, do what you say you’re going to do, and make your kids toe the line and all that stuff. But at the same time, you give them lots of hugs and kisses. — Chris Pratt, Live With Kelly and Ryan

Gwen Stefani
“The hardest thing to do is having a discipline chart and follow-up on all those things. It’s work, you know? But that’s where you get the results. I see a constant fear of ‘How am I gonna make sure these kids are good people?’ I feel like naturally it’s so easy for them to be naughty, and you get more and more worried about it the older they get.” – Gwen Stefani, People Magazine

Melissa McCarthy
It’s a balancing act. Kids are really smart. They pick up on everything and then you still have to not laugh in front of them as you tell them that something’s not appropriate, or something might be too aggressive. Then, when they leave the room… Ben and I try to write [what they did] down so we don’t forget, and then laugh a lot without them seeing. It’s a system in a web of lies. That’s what it is. — Melissa McCarthy, People Magazine

Nick Cannon
My kids—it’s a blessing—they’re extremely disciplined. They try [misbehaving] with other people because everyone gives them so much attention, but when it comes to [Mariah] and I, we only have to say something once. We ask them to have a seat, they sit down, cross their legs, and put their hands in their lap. I hope it lasts. I’ve got the loudest voice in the house, so they’ve always responded to that ever since they were newborns. They hear my voice and they freeze. — Nick Cannon, People Magazine