Jane Fonda admits her biggest regret: ‘I just didn’t know how to do it’

Jane Fonda has spoken candidly about motherhood and confessed that she wasn’t the type of parent that she “wished” she had been.

The 85-year-old was asked about her biggest regret during a recent interview with CNN’s Chris Wallace. In response, she shared her feelings about parenting, as she has three adult children: Mary Luana Williams, 55; Vanessa Vadim, 54; and Troy O’Donovan Garity, 49.

“I was not the kind of mother that I wished that I had been to my children,” Fonda said. “I have great, great children. Talented, smart. I just didn’t know how to do it.”

The 80 For Brady star then acknowledged how she learned more about motherhood later on in life, through the advocacy work she’s done that focuses on children. Back in 1995, she founded The Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Power & Potential, a non-profit health organisation that works closely with adolescents in the state.

“I’ve studied parenting, and I know what it’s supposed to be now,” Fonda told Wallce. “I didn’t know then. So I’m trying to show up now.”

Over the years, Fonda has shared her honest thoughts about motherhood. During an interview with Harper’s Bazaar in 2021, she confessed that the topic was the “main thing about [her] past that [she] thought about almost every day”.

She also said that when her youngest child, Troy, became a father, it gave her a new perspective on her own parenting skills.

“When I watch my son and his wife, Simone, parent, I’m awestruck,” she said. “It puts into such stark relief for me, what I didn’t do. I don’t think I’ve said this to him, so I feel a little weird, but anyway that’s the reality. Watching my son be a parent, I think, ‘God, I just wish I had done that. And then I realise, if I had done that I would not have become who I became.”

She acknowledged how involved she was with her advocacy work while she was parenting, explaining: “There has to be an in-between way, but I’ve never been an in-between kind of person. I was too wrapped up in me. I was too wrapped up in becoming an activist.”

Elsewhere in her interview with Wallace, Fonda confessed another fear.

“What I’m really scared of is getting to the end of life with a lot of regrets when there’s no time to do anything about it,” she said. “It’s one reason I’m trying to get it all done before I come to the end.”

However, she also noted that she’s not at all scared of death: “It’s an adventure. I don’t want to go, I still have a lot to do, but if I discovered I had cancer again, and there was nothing I could do, I’d be okay with it.”

In September 2022, Fonda first announced that she was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and had started chemo treatments. She shared on Instagram in December that her cancer was in remission, and called the news the “best birthday present ever,” as she turned 85 that month.