Alicia Silverstone on raising her son Bear as an example: ‘I don’t run around and scream and don’t get mad’
Welcome to So Mini Ways, Yahoo Life’s parenting series on the joys and challenges of parenting.
Alicia Silverstone is perhaps best known for iconic roles such as Cher Horowitz in the classic teen comedy ignorant, but the part where she seems to thrive best is mother. The actress, author and environmental advocate — who regularly uses Instagram to post about how she practices kindness to the Earth and the creatures we share it with — is raising son Bear Blu, 10, with ex-husband Christopher Jarecki. Today, mother and son are closer than ever. Halfway through her phone call to Yahoo Life, Silverstone even took a moment to greet her son—who was just passing by to grab something he’d forgotten from his father—with a warm welcome and a kiss.
Silverstone and Bear both eat a vegan diet (“kale is his favorite food,” she explains), so when? The Babysitters Club star had the opportunity to collaborate with Silk Oat Milk on their GOAT campaign (that’s the best) oat milk all time of course) she called on Bear to taste.
“When my son took the first sip, his eyeballs jumped. He just loves it,” she told Yahoo Life. “It’s so creamy and so delicious. We make smoothies with it. He would drink it from the box if he could!”
It’s not just a shared passion for oat milk that keeps Silverstone and her son together.
“Bear and I love each other so much, it’s just really stupid,” she says. “I’m sure every parent feels that way. He’s my favorite friend, he’s my favorite person. He’s so sweet and nice and wonderful.”
Here, the actress shares how she leads Bear by example, what they do for fun in their largely tech-free home, and what he thought when he first watched his mother’s most famous movie.
Bear helped recreate a scene ignorant for your TikTok debut. Has he seen the movie? What were his thoughts?
He saw the film when we went to the LA cemetery for an outdoor screening. You lie on the grass with your blanket and your pillows. We were going to introduce the movie like, five years ago, and he watched it outside on this huge screen with me, and it was so beautiful to do that with him. Normally I wouldn’t recommend a 5 year old to watch the movie, nor would I have let him see it except it’s his mom and I wasn’t sure when we’d have a chance to see it that way again . He really liked it. i think he likes it Babysitter Club a little bit more.
How have you managed parenting during a pandemic?
Bear and I have never been bored. When he’s at my house, there’s no media. We’ll watch a movie maybe once a week as a special treat, but it doesn’t have iPads or other electronics; he’s just with me. We walk the dogs every day, we trampoline, we jump rope. At first I fooled him into thinking we were playing, but in reality he was just helping me practice. We would take nature walks and cook. We live in a beautiful home that is humble and beautiful and we love it. Being together is what we do, no matter what. Prior to all this I had brought him to Bali, and we spent three weeks just running around Bali together – no electronics, just being together. And now we just went to Alaska together.
You are a big supporter of the environment and animals. Did you also teach your son how to be a lawyer?
As for teaching him about the world and about animals, and about being a good citizen, I think he’s used to that. That’s how we live. We have a plastic bag that comes from the supermarket or someone leaves it here, we rinse it out and dry it on our dryer and we reuse it. We have our vegetable garden, and we have solar panels, and we drive an electric car, and we eat vegan, and we don’t want to hurt animals. We only buy from eco sellers. It’s just part of his life. There isn’t really anything to learn. He goes to play with animals, he talks to chickens and he cuddles cows. That’s the experience he has with animals, so it makes sense that he doesn’t want to hurt them.
In what ways do you encourage Bear to be himself?
I’ve always wanted my son to be who he is in his heart and soul, not to be imprinted on him. That’s what I love Waldorf education, and how I chose to raise him. A simple thing is not to say to him, “No, no, no. Instead, say, “No, thank you,” or, “You can’t do that.” Expressing things in a gentle way. I respect him, so he has a huge amount of respect for me.With teaching, of course I want him to learn so much in this life.I also give him a bit of homeschooling, so we work together on math and spelling.
I know that it is naturally my job to be his teacher, but I think that we teach above all by example. I don’t run around screaming and getting mad and telling him what to do; he is not like that. I see kids get really angry and throw a lot of tantrums, and you look at the parents and it’s not much different. They have to look inside themselves to see how they got there. It is very important to me, if I feel that I am getting a little tense as if I have too much going on – often I have too much going on, but sometimes I can handle it better than others – if I find that I have a I’m going to say to Bear, “Hey, you know Bear, Mommy isn’t feeling like herself. I’m feeling a little pressured and tense. So I just want to let you know where I am, just in case I don’t seem too good mama now.” And he says, “I understand mama!” And that’s that.
He really learns to question everything. “Don’t believe what they tell you.” He doesn’t necessarily see his mother doing what the masses are doing and really questioning things, really thinking about things and looking at things through a magnifying glass, trying to create peace for everyone. But his father lives very differently, so he gets to see the whole picture. He can choose and choose and be whoever he wants to be. I like the idea of not imprinting him. If you stay out of the way, they’ll teach you. They are so magical. When you give them the space to be themselves, they have so much confidence in who they are. They will teach us who they are and what they need.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
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