The Ultimate Parenting Advice from Mary Poppins

In the animated kid’s flick Despicable Me, Julie Andrews ditched her sweet Mary Poppins persona to play a harsh mom who showers her son, Gru (voiced by Steve Carell), with put-downs. (It’s no wonder Gru grows up to become a super villain.)

In real life, of course, Andrews, 74, couldn’t be further from her Despicable Me character. From Mary Poppins to The Sound of Music to The Princess Diaries and Shrek, Andrews’ reputation is firmly rooted in some of Hollywood’s most beloved kid-friendly movies. Not to mention the fact that she has been writing children’s books—some of them with her daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton—since the 1970s.

As a mother of five, and grandmother of seven, Andrews knows a thing or two about raising kids. She recently spoke with iVillage and shared a few parenting tips of her own that she’s learned on and off the silver screen.

1. Let your “roving antenna” guide you.
“I have a kind of roving antenna, and if my kids are okay I can go off and do anything. I can rest easy and work and so on. But if they’re in any way shape or form not in a good place, then it cuts across anything else that you might want to do.”

2. Read to your kids as much as possible.
“I read a lot to my kids as children and when I was writing I read a lot to them.… My daughter [Emma] and I are huge advocates of reading to kids.”

3. Specifically, read “The Little Grey Men” to your kids.
“It was the book that my father bought for me when I was about eight and it has enchanted me ever since. It’s a little bit like ‘Watership Down.’ It brings you down to the level of four little men. They’re the last four gnomes left in England and it’s [about] their life and the adventure that they go on.”

4. When your children grow into adults, consider collaborating with them on work projects.
“My daughter is terrific to work with. I have written individually and she has, too, but when we work together it is such fun. I never realized what a pleasure it would be when she was this high [indicates the height of a toddler] that one day we’d be facing each other as two women.”

5. There is no right way to be a parent.
“I don’t know about you, but I don’t think anybody feels that they do it right. You just fly by the seat of your pants, and I don’t think that’s changed much [over the years]. Each child is so individual that you hope you find your way.”

6. In the end, trust in love.
“I think as long as you give a child love, you probably can’t do too much harm.”

Which Julie Andrews role did you love most? Chime in below!

Like This? Read These:
-Raising Happy Kids
- Steve Carell on Despicable Me, Fatherhood, and His Kid's Love for Hamster Bedtime Stories
- What is 'Co-Parenting?' And Why Are So Many Celebs Doing It?  
- 3-D Movies: Are They Bad for Kids' Eyes?

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