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Jennifer Garner’s hands-off parenting philosophy includes a little ‘benign neglect’

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During a Nov. 28 appearance on TODAY with Hoda & Jenna, Jennifer Garner opened up about her parenting style, revealing that she’s far from a helicopter parent. In fact, she’s all about giving her kids a little “benign neglect.”

First, Garner shut down misconceptions that she’s “type A,” debunking the assumption that she’s super-organized and calling herself a “scatterbrained disaster.” (Girl, same!) And when co-host Hoda Kotb asked if she had any specific “parenting philosophy,” the Family Switch star admitted she keeps things pretty relaxed with her three children, Violet, 17, Seraphina, 14, and Samuel, 11, whom she shares with ex-husband Ben Affleck.

“I don’t know that I have some overarching philosophy,” she said. “I just think they’re such cool people and I want to hear everything, and I want to be around. But I also think it’s OK if they suffer from a little bit of benign neglect.”

“Their lives are their own,” she continued. “I’m not trying to live their life, and I don’t mind that they see that I love mine.”

Garner did note that her kids do not have public social media accounts, even though Violet is about to celebrate her 18th birthday on Dec. 1. “I have an 18 year old coming up, and honestly, I’m so not preachy about it. I really feel like, who knows what my kids are doing online? I do not judge. They are not on TikTok or Instagram or Facebook or anything like that, and so, for that, I’ll call that a win. Who knows? That could change. You never know.”

In an April 2023 appearance on TODAY, the 51-year-old opened up a bit further about her household’s social media policy. “I just said to my kids, ‘Show me the articles that prove that social media is good for teenagers, and then we’ll have the conversation,’” she explained. “Find scientific evidence that matches what I have that says that it’s not good for teenagers, then we’ll chat.”