Charlize Theron doesn’t abide by patriarchal norms when it comes to parenting her two children, Jackson, 6, and August, 2. Instead, the single mother is rocking the matriarchy — and co-parenting her little ones with her mom, Gerda Maritz.
In a recent interview with comedian and activist Chelsea Handler for Elle, Theron opened up about why she believes it’s so important to ask others for help when raising children.
“I knew that I would have to have my mom help me if I was going to do this as a single parent,” Theron said. “To not acknowledge her in co-parenting my children would be a lie… I would feel pretty alone if I didn’t have a partner in crime in all of this.”
Theron, who broke off her engagement to Sean Penn in 2015, has always been candid about how Maritz’s parenting style has inspired the kind of mother she wanted to be with her adopted children. Shortly after bringing Jackson home, Theron told Vogue UK her goal was to be “fair, tough, loving, and supportive,” just like her mom.
“My mom has made it possible for me to be who I am,” she added. “Our family is everything. Her greatest skill was encouraging me to find my own person and own independence.”
But seeking help wasn’t always easy for Theron, who admitted to Handler that she initially struggled with letting people in after Jackson was born because she feared she’d be perceived as “a bad parent.” Once she welcomed August into her family, her view on parenting shifted, and she said she’s better for it.
“The second time, I realized I am happier, and my kids are happier if I ask for more help,” Theron said. “People think I have a staff of 40, but I don’t. I have one nanny and my mom up the street and amazing friends and family. I call them my village.”
Theron explained that she has relied on said village a lot this year as she grapples with the troubling reality of raising Black children in the Trump era. Theron said she’s fearful of how her kids will be treated in a time when the president himself has called white nationalists “very fine people.”
“I don’t even know how to talk about the last year under our new administration,” Theron said. “But racism is much more alive and well than people thought. We can’t deny it anymore. We have to be vocal. There are places in this country where, if I got a job, I wouldn’t take it. I wouldn’t travel with my kids to some parts of America, and that’s really problematic. There are a lot of times when I look at my kids, and I’m like, ‘If this continues, I might have to [leave the U.S.].’ Because the last thing I want is for my children to feel unsafe.”
The actor, who grew up in apartheid-era in South Africa, added that she wants her children “to be so fucking proud of who they are” and that when they’re older, she plans to talk to them about white privilege and explaining how systemic racism will impact them differently than it impacts her.
Hopefully, with the help of their amazing mom, her mom and the rest of that village, Theron’s kids will grow up to know a safer and more equal America. Hopefully.