Alicia Silverstone on how she raises her son Bear by example: 'I'm not running around and shouting and getting angry'

·6-min read
Alicia Silverstone is mom to 10-year-old son Bear. (Photo: Getty; designed by Quinn Lemmers)
Alicia Silverstone is mom to 10-year-old son Bear. (Photo: Getty; designed by Quinn Lemmers)

Welcome to So Mini Ways, Yahoo Life's parenting series on the joys and challenges of child-rearing.

Alicia Silverstone may be best known for iconic roles like Cher Horowitz in the classic teen comedy Clueless, but the part she seems to thrive best in is mom. The actress, author and environmental advocate — who routinely uses Instagram to post about how she’s practicing kindness to the earth and the creatures we’re sharing it with — is raising son Bear Blu, 10, with ex-husband Christopher Jarecki. These days, mom and son are closer than ever. In fact, midway through her call with Yahoo Life, Silverstone took a moment to greet her son — who has just stopped by to grab something he forgot while at his dad’s — with a warm welcome and kiss.

Silverstone and Bear both eat a vegan diet (“kale is his favorite food,” she explains), so when The Baby-Sitters Club star was offered a chance to collaborate with Silk Oatmilk on their G.O.A.T. campaign (that’s the greatest oatmilk of all time, of course) she called upon Bear to taste-test.

“When my son took the first sip, his little eyeballs popped. He just loves it, ” she tells Yahoo Life. “It’s so creamy and so delicious. We make smoothies with it. He would drink it out of the carton if he could!”

It’s not just a shared passion for oatmilk that keeps Silverstone and her son tight.

“Bear and I love each other so much, it’s just absolutely silly,” she gushes. “I am sure that’s how every parent feels. He’s my favorite buddy, he’s my favorite person. He’s so sweet and delicious and wonderful.”

Here, the actress shares how she’s leading Bear by example, what they do for fun in their mostly tech-free home and what he thought the first time he watched his mom’s most famous film.

Bear helped recreate a scene from Clueless for your TikTok debut. Has he seen the movie? What were his thoughts?

He saw the movie when we went to the L.A. cemetery for an outdoor screening. You lay on the grass with your blanket and your pillows. We went to introduce the movie like, five years ago, and he watched it outside on this massive screen with me, and it was so beautiful to do that with him. I wouldn’t usually suggest a 5-year-old watch the movie, and I wouldn’t have shown it to him, except that it’s his mommy and I wasn’t sure when we would have an opportunity to see it like that again. He liked it a lot. I think he likes Baby-Sitters Club a little bit more though.

How did you manage parenting during a pandemic?

Bear and I have never experienced boredom. When he’s at my house, there’s no media. We’ll watch a movie maybe once a week as a special treat, but he’s not on iPads or any electronics; he’s just with me. We walk the dogs every day, we trampoline, we jump rope. In the beginning I would trick him into thinking we were playing, but really he was just helping me get exercise. We would go on nature hikes and cook. We live in a beautiful home that’s humble and gorgeous and we love it. Being together is what we do no matter what. Prior to all of this I had taken 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.

Silverstone opens up about spending time with Bear (pictured in 2017). (Photo: Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Silverstone opens up about spending time with Bear (pictured in 2017). (Photo: Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

You’re a big environmental and animal advocate. Have you taught your son how to be an advocate as well?

In terms of teaching him about the world, and about animals, and about being a good citizen, I think he just is. That’s how we live. We have a plastic bag that comes from the grocery store or someone leaves it here, we rinse it out and we dry it on our dryer and we reuse it. We have our veggie 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 vendors. It’s just a part of his life. There’s nothing really to teach. He goes to play with animals, and he talks to chickens, and he hugs cows. That’s the experience he’s having with animals, so it’s natural that he doesn’t want to hurt them.

In what ways are you encouraging Bear to be himself?

I have always wanted my son to be whoever he is in his heart and soul, and not to imprint on him. That’s what I love about Waldorf education, and how I have chosen to raise him. One simple thing is not saying to him, "No, no, no. Instead, saying, "No thank you," or, "You may not do that." Expressing things in a gentle way. I respect him so he has an enormous amount of respect for me. With the teaching thing, of course I want him to learn so much in this life. I homeschool him a little bit too, so we work on math together, and spelling.

I know that innately it is my job to be his teacher, but I think we mostly teach by example. I’m not running around shouting and getting angry and telling him what to do; that’s not how he is. I see children who get very angry and throw tantrums a lot, and you look at the parents and it’s not much different. They have to look inside themselves to see how they’ve got there. It’s very important to me, if I feel myself getting a little tight like I have too much going on — often I have too much going on, but sometimes I can handle it better than others — if I notice myself getting a little prickly, I’ll tell Bear, "Hey, you know Bear, Mommy isn’t feeling like herself. I’m feeling a little pressured and tight. So I just want to give you a heads up of where I am at, in case I don’t seem as much yummy Mommy right now." And he goes, "I understand Mommy!" And that’s that.

He’s learning to really question everything. "Don’t believe what they tell you." He sees his momma not necessarily doing what the masses are doing and really questioning things, really thinking about things and looking at things through a magnifying glass, and trying to create peace for everyone. But his dad lives very differently, so he gets to have the whole picture. He can pick and choose and be who he wants to be. I love the idea of not imprinting on him. If you stay out of the way, they’ll teach you. They’re so magical. If you give them the space to be their whole selves, they’re so confident in who they are. They’ll teach us who they are and what they need.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

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