Monica Potter plays Kristina Braverman in NBC’s drama Parenthood. Potter shares her perspective on parenting her own children and playing a TV mom to three children.
Monica Potter Interview: Perspectives On Parenting
Q: Do you find it difficult raising kids in Hollywood?
Potter: I was raised in Cleveland, Ohio. Raising kids in Los Angeles is definitely different than raising kids in Cleveland. That being said, my family does not live in Hollywood, so we are not a part of that culture. Also, I believe that like attracts like. Our social circle consists of families who share our values and core beliefs. We do normal things like pizza with friends and barbecues in our backyard. We try to live a relatively simple life, and my husband and I work hard at not spoiling our children.
Q: How many siblings did you grow up with?
Potter: I have three sisters, and I am the second oldest. I was the middle child. My role in my family was the mediator and caretaker. I didn’t want anybody to fight. I wanted everyone to be happy. I’m still that way. Even in the show, Parenthood.
Q: Do you see the effects of birth order with your own kids?
Potter: I have two sons and one daughter. Liam is my middle child. He also wants to please, and he wants everyone to get along.
Q: Do your kids have chores?
Potter: Yes. The responsibilities differ depending on the age of the child. My oldest is in college. My teenager, Liam, babysits for his sister, helps with the laundry and takes out the garbage. And my youngest, Molly, feeds the dog and cleans her bathroom and bedroom. Can I brag about Liam? He is such a good kid. He volunteers for an organization, called Shane’s Inspiration, where he helps build wheelchair accessible playgrounds. Also, he wants to get a job, but we want him to focus on school and football.
Q: Is it hard to share worries with other parents because of media?
Potter: Yes and no. I do have to be cautious. But I have good friends, and I share my parenting neuroses with them. I worry about being perfect and falling short. And I can be too high strung. I like to be honest and show my vulnerabilities, both in my personal life and as Kristina Braverman on Parenthood.
Q: Does your fame impact your teens?
Potter: I am not sure. Some of Liam’s friends will tell him that they saw me on TV. Occasionally, I hear his friends in the background yelling, “I love you.” In LA, it almost doesn’t matter because so many parents are involved in the business. I do think that Liam likes that his mom is an actor.
Q: What is the biggest surprise for you as the mother of teens?
Potter: My biggest surprise as a parent is the huge difference between girls and boys. I grew up in a family with all girls. I felt lost when my boys were younger, but I found an excellent book that really helped: Real Boys by William Pollack.
Q: What is your biggest challenge as a mom?
Potter: Figuring out where to let go and where to draw the line. When my freshman in high school forgets his lunch, should I bring it to him? Also, I really hate when my kids are mouthy, and I work at keeping calm when I don’t like their behavior. My oldest, Danny, went through a teen stage when he didn’t like me, but thankfully, that phase is over and he seems to like me again.
Q: What is your biggest success as a mom?
Potter: I pride myself on being organized. I especially like it when they are getting along with each other. Even though Molly is 5 and Liam is 15, they still bicker, but when they get along, I swell with pride. I especially love when another parent tells me that my kid is nice. I love that.
Q: How do you balance being a celebrity with being a mom?
Potter: First of all, in my world, I am not a celebrity. I am just a mom. On days when we are shooting for Parenthood, I need to be on set by 4:30 a.m. My husband is an orthopedic surgeon with an unpredictable schedule. We are so fortunate to have Sylvia, who comes at 6:30 a.m. to help the kids get to school.
Q: Do you resemble your character on TV?
Potter: I do. Actually, she resembles me. The directors encourage each actor to infuse their personalities into the TV characters. At this point, Kristina and I are almost morphed into one. I see Kristina as somewhat overbearing and neurotic but also grounded and nurturing. My family might see me the same way.
Q: Do you feel like you are parenting your TV children?
Potter: Yeah. Sarah, who plays my TV daughter Haddie, is 19-years-old, but she does occasionally ask for advice. They call me Momica.
Q: Do you have any advice for parents?
Potter: Take advice from people whom you trust. Pray. Meditate. Write in a journal. And do something for yourself.