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13 Famous People Who Used "Controversial" Parenting Methods

In an interview with Instyle, Gwyneth Paltrow shared that she only allowed her kids to watch Spanish or French-language TV shows. "When I'm in France, I go to [Boulevard] Beaumarchais and buy all their cartoons," she said.

Every parent raises their children differently and oftentimes when people stray away from "traditional" methods of parenting, they get a negative reaction from people. Celebrity parents are more than familiar with this. Here are some famous people who have received backlash after publicly sharing their "alternative" parenting techniques:

1. Julia Fox recently stirred controversy with her comments on raising children. She shared a theory on TikTok that the concept of "childhood" was invented as a way to get parents to buy things their kids don't need like toys.

closeup of julia

She said, "It’s not really teaching your kid anything, you just end up raising a kid that’s like helpless and doesn’t know what to do." She said that her 19-month-old son Valentino isn't interested in his toys at all and is more interested in the day-to-day tasks that she does. She even displayed the mini cleaning set that she got for her son.

the mop and broom cleaning set

"I suggest everyone buy their kid a little mini mop, a mini broom, and start teaching them those life skills really young," Julia added, "So that when they enter the real world, they don’t have to outsource for everything, and they know how to do things for themselves."

julia entering a building

2. In a 2015 blog post, Pamela Anderson wrote that she wanted her two teenage sons to "practice safe sex, drink and experiment with drugs in moderation, find true love."

pamela anderson standing in front of a crowd

When asked about her parenting style, she said, “I really believe in my kids. My kids have had a great foundation, they have seen the world." She added, “They’ve made great choices. They are really smart people, I am not afraid of my kids surfing the Internet. I think they are making proper decisions and you can’t be in denial of what life has to offer. I don’t know how much of a role model their parents are, but we’ve had a lot of fun.”

closeup of pamela

3. Kristen Bell shared that in 2018, her youngest daughter decided to stop sleeping, so she and her husband Dax Shepard would lock their then three-year-old daughter, Delta, in her room until she'd tire herself out.

kristen and dax sheppard on the red carpet

Kristen admitted, “I’m sorry, I know that’s controversial, but we…stand outside and say, ‘We love you, we will talk to you in the morning, but now, it’s time for sleep.’ And after about 10 minutes, she’ll wind herself down."

dax and kristen by the beach

She clarified that they would unlock the door after the child went to sleep.

dax and kristen

4. In March 2021, Alicia Silverstone posted a video on her website, The Kind Life, where she pre-chewed food and her 10-month-old son Bear ate it directly out of her mouth. She received backlash from people worrying if the practice was hygienic.

closeup of alicia

Alicia explained, "It's a part of the weaning process, so while I'm still breast-feeding it's just a way to introduce him to food when he doesn't have teeth…and he can't chew."

close up of alicia

She said she started doing this when he was five months old. "I'd be eating and he would come at me with his little mouth open and be on my mouth trying to get the food out of my mouth."

closeup of alicia

5. In 2017, Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher shared they started a tradition where they don't give their kids gifts at Christmas.

close up of mila and ashton

Mila explained how in the past their children have been spoiled by gifts from their grandparents which is what led them to start this new tradition.

mila and ashton

Mila said, "Last year [2016] when we celebrated Christmas, Wyatt was two and it was too much. We didn't give her anything — it was the grandparents. The kid no longer appreciates the one gift. They don't even know what they're expecting; they're just expecting stuff.”

closeup of mila and ashton

She added, “We've told our parents, ‘We're begging you — if you have to give her something, pick one gift. Otherwise, we'd like to take a charitable donation, to the Children's Hospital or a pet [or] whatever you want.’ That's our new tradition.”

ashton and mila

6. In 2021, Ashton and Mila received backlash after revealing on Dax Shepard and Monica Padman's podcast that they bathe their kids with soap only when they see dirt on them, but not daily.

ashton and mila on stage

Mila said she didn't have hot water as a child so she didn't shower often growing up but "when I had children, I also didn’t wash them every day. I wasn’t the parent that bathed my newborns — ever."

mila and ashton at a dodgers game

Ashton added, "Now here's the thing: If you can see the dirt on them, clean them. Otherwise, there’s no point."

the couple at an event

7. Lisa Whelchel promotes using hot sauce to discipline children and she admitted to doing so on her own. When her children didn't respond to other disciplinary actions, she put a dab of hot sauce on her finger and then put her finger on the child's tongue.

close up of lisa

"It does sting and the memory stays with them so that the next time they may actually have some self-control and stop before they lie or bite or something like that," Lisa explained. She added that she would never do it if would cause lasting damage.

close up of lisa

8. In her book, The Kind Mama, Alicia Silverstone wrote that she started potty training her son Bear at just six months old.

alicia walking her dog

Alicia used a tactic called elimination communication which is a method where parents use cues from their babies to know when they have to poop and then help them use the toilet.

alicia at an event

“Just like your baby tells you it needs to eat or it’s tired, they tell you when they need to go to the bathroom,” Silverstone explained.

alicia standing in front of mannequins wearing different dresses

“They give you cues, but we’re ignoring those cues. If you pay attention, they actually have a pause button and will give you enough time to get to a place that makes it comfortable for them to go. It’s amazing.”

alicia at an event

9. In a 2012 interview with Instyle, Gwyneth Paltrow shared that she only allows her kids to watch Spanish or French-language TV shows. "When I'm in France, I go to [Boulevard] Beaumarchais and buy all their cartoons," she said.

close up of gwenyth

10. In 2014 Mayim Bialik has said she refuses to give her kids medications or antibiotics when they're sick.

closeup of Mayim

"Between our two boys, ages six and three-and-a-half, we have dealt with just about every ailment, sickness, and flu out there. However, neither of our sons has ever been on antibiotics, nor do we give them Tylenol, Motrin, antihistamines, or cough syrup. She continued, "I've learned from talking to other moms that almost everything you have right now in your home and your heart is enough to deal with most everything. I'm not arguing to be negligent."

closeup of mayim

In 2015, she did clarify in a tweet that she is not an anti-vaxxer and that her kids are vaccinated.

dispelling rumors abt my stance on vaccines. i'm not anti. my kids are vaccinated. so much anger and hysteria. i hope this clears things up.

Twitter: @missmayim

11. On CBS Sunday Morning in 2021, Penelope Cruz shared that she doesn't allow her two kids (eight and 10 years old at the time) to have cell phones or use social media.

penelope at an event

“I really see that that is protecting mental health, but I seem to be part of a minority,” Penelope said. “I feel really bad for the ones that are teenagers now. It’s almost [as] if the world was doing some kind of experiment on them. ‘Oh, let’s see what happens if you expose a 12-year-old to that much technology.’”

close up of penelope

She continued, “There is no protection for them, for brains that are still developing and how that affects the way they see themselves, how everything related to bullying, so many things that are not the childhood that we had."

closeup of penelope

Penelope said that she lets her kids watch movies and cartoons sometimes, but they will not be able to have phones until they are much older and that they will not be allowed on social media until they are at least 16.

close up of penelope

12. In a 2018 radio interview, Kelly Clarkson admitted that she spanked her kids who were three and one years old at the time.

kelly at an event

"My parents spanked me, and I did fine in life, and I feel fine about it, and I do that as well," Clarkson said. "That's a tricky thing, when you're out in public because then people are like, they think that's wrong or something, but I find nothing wrong with a spanking."

kelly on her talk show

Clarkson said she would warn her then three-year-old daughter, River Rose, with spankings. "I'm like, 'Hi, I'm going to spank you on your bottom if you don't stop right now, this is ridiculous,' and honestly it's really helped. She doesn't do that kind of stuff as often."

kelly at an event

13. And lastly, Madonna once told Newsweek about how strict she is about her children keeping their rooms tidy.

madonna on stage

Madonna said that when she would find dirty clothes on Lourdes' floor, she would take all of her clothes and Lourdes would have to earn them back by being tidy. She said, “wears the same outfit every day to school until she learns her lesson.”

madonnna and lourdes leaving a building

Correction: Gwyneth Paltrow's name was misspelled in an earlier version of this post.