Not all celebrity parents value their careers more than their kids. But unfortunately, some don’t seem to have any issues with publicizing their entire family’s every move. From perfectly timed paparazzi shots to selling exclusive information and photos to tabloids, some celebrity parents don’t mind trading their kids’ privacy for a little extra cash.
While some celebrities grew to fame because of their kids, others were famous first but found new ways to fill their wallets once having a few kids. And because so many celebrities wind up pausing or even changing their careers post-baby, it sometimes makes sense for them to focus more on parenting as a profession.
Still, the kids don’t always benefit from mom and dad’s waiving of their privacy. Kids today have it hard enough without being under the scrutiny of the media- not to mention overenthusiastic fans. When your parent is a rock star or TV personality, you’re bound to have some privacy issues. The problem comes when mom and dad decide to cash in on it.
From business-minded moms who recognize their kids as career potential to superstar parents who don’t place limits on the public’s access to their children, here are twenty parents who traded their children’s privacy for a career boost.
20 Keeping it Kardashian
Known as the mastermind behind her daughters’ reality TV and other successes, Kris Jenner is the matriarch of a family full of self-made celebrities. While Caitlyn Jenner is no longer a big part of the family’s on-screen lives, that doesn’t mean Kris has let up when it comes to steering her kids toward stardom. She’s mom to Kourtney, Kim, Khloe, and Rob, all children of her late husband Robert Kardashian, and Kendall and Kylie Jenner, who are the daughters of then-husband Bruce (now Caitlyn). Got all of that?
The reality TV series starring the Kardashian-Jenner clan started in 2007, and Kris said at the time that the drama on the show would “be natural.”
But before that, Kris had a glimpse of the celeb world when her late husband, Robert Kardashian, helped represent O.J. Simpson in his murder trial back in the 70s. Later, Kris married Bruce Jenner, a retired Olympian who came with his own fame.
At least twelve seasons of Keeping Up with the Kardashians- plus spinoffs like Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami, Kourtney and Kim Take New York, Khloe & Lamar, and others- threw the whole family into the spotlight. The younger girls in the family started modeling, Kim started out as a stylist to Paris Hilton but later became her own brand, and a few clothing lines and other merchandise followed the family’s TV rise to fame.
19 Questionable Kimye Antics
It seems like Kim Kardashian-West learned plenty from her mom Kris Jenner’s example. The celebrity mom is not only a “socialite” and “businesswoman,” but also a TV personality, actress, and model, her Wikipedia page notes. While she was relatively unknown when she became close friend Paris Hilton’s stylist, a scandalous private tape that went public in 2007 pushed her into the spotlight.
That same year, she started starring in Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Her personal life became mostly public, and Kim started a mobile game, a few clothing and product brands, and published a photo book. Before she married Kanye West and the two had their three kids, two prior marriages earned her even more notoriety.
But when Kimye’s first daughter, North, arrived, they didn’t tone things down. Kanye himself is known for storming the spotlight, but the couple weren’t shy at all about sharing their daughter with the public. Not only does North (and her siblings) grace her mom’s social media updates often, but she also models mom’s fashion creations. She tags along at fashion shows, too, but Kim and Kanye seem fine with raising their kiddos under the spotlight- especially when it helps promote their many brands.
18 Kate Plus How Many
When Kate Gosselin got pregnant with her twins, she and husband Jon were your average married couple. But to have the twins, the couple had to use fertility treatments. For their next pregnancy, they turned to a fertility clinic a second time. But that time around, Kate got pregnant with six babies; Aaden, Collin, Joel, Alexis, Hannah, and Leah.
After the children were born, Discovery Health filmed them for a special called Surviving Sextuplets and Twins. The following year, another special tracked the family’s progress, with Sextuplets and Twins: One Year Later. I remember watching as Jon & Kate Plus 8 began rolling in 2007, seeing the family interact with their twins and sextuplets in day-to-day life.
But with their reality show, the couple not only started earning money from the mere existence of their kiddos, but Jon and Kate’s drama became the highlight. Not only were there questions about how the two were raising their eight children- with the help of multiple nannies- but their marriage was dissolving, too.
Through it all, Kate plowed ahead with her kids’ appearances on the TV show, despite Jon’s attempts to block them from living in the public eye. Kate Plus 8 came afterward, and Kate kept earning paychecks from her kids’ “work” on the show amid criticism over her parenting choices.
17 Instantly Instagram Famous
Blogger and mom of five Katie Stauffer shot to internet fame when she started posting cute pics and videos of her twin girls. Mila and Emma started appearing on their mom’s Instagram account when they were infants, but now they have over 3.5 million fans on the social media site. While the girls are both adorable, Emma is resistant to appearing on camera, Katie told Buzzfeed. But even Mila’s videos are scripted, and her photos posed, the mom explains. In fact, one of her older kids, write the scripts.
Once the girls’ internet fame began to grow, Katie said, she started to receive paid offers from companies who wanted to sponsor ads. That meant mom could manage the girls’ online brand working from home. She told Buzzfeed that the income from the girls’ ads allowed her to quit her full-time job. Rather, she became a full-time Instagram mom, scheduling her days based on what images she needs to capture of the girls for what brands.
One “influencer marketing agency” said he guesses Katie makes anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000 per post, and Katie told a local news outlet that she made more money than her husband. Mr. Stauffer is reportedly a doctor. But once the Buzzfeed article was published, Katie posted a video decrying the writer’s stance about her job and her family. The thing is, this mama is clearly using her kids’ fame for family income, in exchange for a serious lack of privacy- the girls are even photographed in training pants for a sponsored potty-training post.
16 Duggar PR Disasters
Most everyone has heard of the Duggar family- they’re an Arkansas clan with nineteen biological children. While that alone is impressive and newsworthy, all the children’s names begin with the letter J (a tribute to dad Jim Bob), the family is vehemently religious, and their clan includes two sets of twins. Jim Bob and Michelle have always been open to having as many children as their god allows them, they often repeated on their show 19 Kids and Counting, which ended in 2015 amid the scandal over their son Josh.
When allegations arose that eldest son Josh had molested his younger sisters, the reality TV show was canceled, and Josh was pulled from future spinoffs, too. Despite the drama, Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar kept on with their public appearances and even defended their son’s actions, claiming they had taken care of things themselves.
But the couple makes a ton of cash from their show, sources say, and they’ve always lived debt-free- so that means they’re probably sitting on a ton of money.
And while some say the Duggars were exploiting their homeschooled and strictly religious household full of tots, they maintain that their reality TV show is a form of ministry to the public- making the world a better place. One thing’s for sure- their fame is definitely making them better money than their past real estate careers.
15 Brangelina’s Bold Moves
Brad and Angelina were one of the fans’ favorite couples. From when they started catching feelings back while filming Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Angelina and Brad stole the spotlight. When they met, Angelina already had two adopted children on her own, but Brad would later adopt them, too. The couple went on to have a biological daughter, boy-girl twins, and also adopted one more child. And though there’s no question about Brad and Angelina’s humanitarian actions, both as a couple and on their own, their children will never lead normal lives.
When Brad and Angie’s twins, Vivienne and Knox, were born in 2008, the couple planned a photo shoot with Hello! Magazine. The price tag for snaps of the twins? A sweet $14 million, CNN reported- more than any other celebrity photo in history. And while the infants’ first photos- which covered a 17-page spread- were sweet family moments featuring the couple’s other kids, thus began their life in the spotlight.
While some argue that it was inevitable that the Jolie Pitt kids would be thrust into stardom whether they wanted it or not, their parents’ moves didn’t help. The twins’ photos were sold for a charity donation to the Jolie-Pitt Foundation, which helps children all around the world. But with an estimated combined net worth of $400 million, according to Page Six, critics wonder why the couple needed to sell their kids’ photos for cash.
14 Teen Mom Spotlight
Farrah Abraham was never anyone’s ideal role model when she first appeared in MTV’s 16 and Pregnant. Her child’s father, Derek Underwood, died during filming of Farrah’s first season on the show. Their daughter, Sophia, never got the chance to meet her dad. But from the moment Sophia was born, she made regular appearances on subsequent seasons of Teen Mom as Farrah worked toward a college degree and a career.
But things weren’t easy for Farrah or Sophia. Between fighting with her mom and dad to struggling to parent Sophia alone, Farrah caused controversy no matter what she did. From getting breast implants when Sophia was a toddler to leaving her with grandma while Farrah went away to college, her parenting decisions were constantly criticized.
As Sophia grew, the backlash over Farrah’s parenting only increased. Farrah frequently posed Sophia in clothing that critics deemed too “mature,” publicly posted about waxing her then preschooler's eyebrows, and now has a clothing line that features Sophia as the spokesperson.
Farrah’s school-age daughter has an Instagram account that promotes products and uses social media advertising to, no doubt, pad mom’s pockets.
Still, Farrah has her own sources of income apart from her daughter. She took a residency at a gentleman’s club at one point, appeared in a second sex tape, started a restaurant, and starred on Celebrity Big Brother (where she lasted 23 days).
13 Like Mother Like Daughter
If you thought Farrah was a less-than-stellar role model, it might help to know more about her upbringing. According to her mom, Debra Danielsen, there was nothing in Farrah’s childhood that would hint at the future internal combustion of this mother-daughter duo. Still, the two fought incessantly on Teen Mom and its related shows, even appearing on a couples’ therapy show when Farrah’s paid-for-beau backed out.
So it wasn’t really a surprise when Debra announced she was spilling the beans in a book about her life, and of course, Farrah’s. Her memoir, Vapor: A True Story of How I Fell Victim to Catfishing, talks about a cancer scare that apparently wasn’t enough to get Farrah to mend her relationship with mom. Debra wrote that while she was diagnosed with cancer, she didn’t actually have it, because the troublesome nodes and polyps were removed during surgery.
Still, Debra aimed to use her “cancer scare” to highlight how alone she was during her diagnosis, surgery, and recovery. She seems to be calling Farrah out intentionally, and goes on further to claim that Farrah attacked her at one point in 2010, In Touch Weekly reported. But Farrah denies the altercation, saying that Debra was the one who was found guilty, served time in jail, and now has a record. However, we’d assume that Debra’s making enough cash from this book that dishes on her and Farrah’s lives that she isn’t worried about making their animosity worse.
12 Sister Wives On Screen
Having multiple wives is one way to make it big on reality TV, at least if you’re Kody Brown. The TLC-famous family, which includes four wives and 17 children, started out on the show Sister Wives in 2010. Now, more than 12 seasons later, most of the Brown kids have grown up on-screen. And while having four wives might be cool in some places in the world, the US-based family had to essentially flee persecution at one point for their lifestyle choices.
As it originally stood, Kody was married to first wife Meri. He later added Janelle and Christine to the mix, and last came Robyn, who already had three children from a previous marriage.
The family’s living situation kept each mom and her kids separate from the others, but they all still came together for holidays and family time at each other’s homes. Still, that doesn’t mean life is easy for the kids.
Bustle explains that all four moms once attended all the children’s parent-teacher conferences at school. If the kids were trying to lie low, that made it nearly impossible. Plus, dad Kody has run into legal issues as he wound up divorcing Meri in order to marry Robyn and adopt her kids, plus give them health insurance they wouldn’t otherwise qualify for. Still, the paycheck from TLC was apparently worth it for Kody and his wives, whose kids are no longer anonymous anywhere- onscreen or off.
11 Here Comes Controversy
From her first appearance on Toddlers and Tiaras on TLC, “Honey Boo Boo,” aka Alana Thompson, stunned audiences. Her family’s seemingly unhealthy lifestyle, plus the unfortunate circumstances of her older siblings, made for excellent reality TV drama. From teen pregnancy to “Mama June” June Thompson’s relationship with a convicted child molester, the show covered everything. But throughout filming, Alana continued to participate in pageants, making critics assume that Mama June was only out for the cash from the competitions.
Celebrity Net Worth lists Alana Thompson as being worth around $800,000, since he family earned a salary of about $50,000 per episode of Toddlers and Tiaras. The show ran from 2009 to 2016 and a number of children’s advocacy agencies got involved with the show. Then came Alana’s own show, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. That show ran from 2012 to 2017, but a 2017 spinoff about Mama June’s life followed.
Mama June: From Not to Hot was more about Mama June’s significant weight loss than Alana and her pageants, but maybe that’s the idea. Now that June’s daughter has earned her keep, maybe June is relying on that notoriety to keep her own reality TV career going, whatever the cost.
10 Country Star Stages Revival
When Hannah Montana first began airing in 2006, I was actually tickled to see country music star Billy Ray Cyrus on the show. I thought it was sweet that he and his daughter co-starred on the show, although it was a little weird that Miley’s siblings weren’t featured. Why have an actor pose as Miley’s brother when she has both a brother and sister? But those oddities aside, it was nice that Billy Ray got to play a little country music again and ride on his daughter’s coattails.
But it did seem like Billy Ray was using Miley’s talent to put himself back on the map.
After all, his last big hit was in the 90s. Once he faded off the airwaves following “Achy Breaky Heart,” a few more albums achieved lesser success. Then Cyrus turned to Christian music, producing two albums that definitely didn’t sell as hotly as his country hits.
Curiously, his next album was released when Billy Ray was working on Hannah Montana, although that didn’t impress critics, either. So despite his attempts at reviving his career through his daughter, Billy Ray sort of missed the mark. However, a later appearance on Dancing with the Stars helped regain his footing, and he kept making new music well past the end of Hannah Montana.
9 Simmons Family Storms Fashion
I remember seeing photos of Kimora Lee Simmons with her two young daughters back in the day when she and their dad were still together. Kimora Lee and Russell Simmons were the power couple of the 90s and well into the 2000s. Kimora is gorgeous, of course, but she was also a powerful businesswoman who modeled, designed clothing, took over the lucrative label Baby Phat, and later worked with JustFab.
She’s also acted in a few films, music videos, reality TV shows, and written a book. So where do her two oldest children come into the equation? Her little girls were clothing models back when I first saw them in magazines and on TV, but Kimora also starred in her own reality TV show- Kimora: Life in the Fab Lane. The show followed Kimora Lee’s daily life with her girls Ming Lee and Aoki Lee plus toddler Kenzo. Her boyfriend at the time was also on the show. The girls were raised in the spotlight, plus with the drama of their parents’ split, their mom’s motivation was questionable to many.
It would seem that Kimora is capable of keeping her personal life separate from her business ventures, but since she and ex Russell worked together, maybe that justifies the blurred lines. However, newly legal Ming Lee Simmons has followed in her mom’s footsteps in becoming a model, not surprising given the family’s background in the industry.
8 Little People Big Headlines
For some reason, reality TV shows that center on the lives of little people, or people with dwarfism, are a huge hit for TLC and other networks. With thirteen seasons under their belt, Matt and Amy Roloff are obviously a money maker for their network. But the tradeoff is that cameras follow every aspect of the family’s lives.
From their twin boys’ struggles in high school (one is average-sized and one has dwarfism) to all four of the kids growing up and starting their own lives, the cameras were rolling. Twins Zach and Jeremy are now married with kids of their own and still appear on the show.
However, youngest son Jacob quit years ago, In Touch Weekly reported. He also claims he didn’t get his share of the cash from the show, which In Touch estimates amounts to around $10,000 per episode per person.
My thought was always that he never appeared as willing as the other siblings to be filmed. Daughter Molly was similar- and went away to college in Washington, later marrying and settling down there. Unfortunately for the elder Roloffs, their marriage ended while the show went on, but hopefully the fame was worth it for their careers.
7 Fame Follows Family
Jessica Simpson has been a household name since she sold her first album and started dating then it-boy Nick Lachey. The two were married for four years, starring on their own reality TV show. However, the couple never had kids together, and divorced in 2006. Between her musical career and a VH1 documentary series, Jessica met and began dating former NFL player Eric Johnson. The pair married in 2014 but first had two children, daughter Maxwell and son Ace.
Though her clothing lines and music, not to mention her hubby’s fame, probably help pay the bills, Jessica doesn’t shy away from sharing her family’s personal info on her social media. Recently, the star shared photos of her two kids sick at home with the flu. Some criticized the mom for sharing pics of her ill children online rather than taking care of them, but others are so used to the mom over-sharing that they didn’t seem to care.
Jessica has also caught criticism for posting pics of her husband and making sexual comments, plus posing herself with barely-there clothing on. Regardless, it doesn’t seem that maintaining her kids’ privacy is a priority. The children are also present at many of Jess’s public appearances for her brands and projects, meaning they have to deal with growing up in the public eye when it’s not entirely necessary- especially since Jessica’s not one of the top celebs on the radar anymore.
6 Oblivious Octomom
Nadya Suleman already had six children- the results of five IVF attempts- when she became pregnant with eight more. Thanks to media attention, “Octomom” became internationally infamous. She was unemployed with six kids at home when the octuplets were born, and Nadya relied on community help and donations to care for the children. In their infancy, the struggling mom gave interviews and participated in photo shoots with the babies.
Even as late as December of 2017, Nadya- who the Daily Mail explains now goes by Natalie- was still giving interviews about her life and the lives of her children.
She told the Daily Mail that her notoriety led to roles in adult films and a brief stint as a night dancer. She was doing what she had to for her children, she explained. But right after she decided to clean herself up and change her life- quitting substance use and alcohol along with dancing- she was charged with welfare fraud.
Although she had applied for public assistance for her fourteen children, Natalie was reportedly earning almost $30,000 as a topless dancer and adult film actress at the time. CNN reported that Suleman failed to report that amount when she applied for assistance, and she ended up taking a plea deal that resulted in her repaying $26,000.
Still, she’s earning money from past appearances in adult films, along with whatever amounts she gets from staging photos with her octuplets, although the older children are noticeably absent from the interviews.
5 Rapper Meets Reality Show
While T.I.’s career was arguably biggest in the early 2000s, he’s nearly always working on an album, so you can’t say he’s fizzled out yet. Still, for some reason, making music wasn’t enough, so T.I. decided to agree to a reality TV show with his wife, “Tiny,” plus his six kids. The first reality TV series was T.I.’s Road to Redemption, which tracked his life leading up to the sentencing for felony gun charges. T.I. later served one year and one day in jail, and the documentary-type reality show was meant to caution teens against a life of crime.
While T.I. claimed to have been reformed, his life as seen on the reality TV show wasn’t without drama. Between his three children with Tameka “Tiny” Cottle, two sons from a former relationship, a daughter from a former relationship, plus a stepdaughter from Cottle’s prior relationship, the couple shared seven children. But the cameras not only captured the family’s everyday life, it also captured the ending of the couple’s relationship.
Tiny moved out of the couple’s home at one point, dropping the couple’s kids off for visits. On one episode that I watched, she tried to enter her former bedroom for some reason, but T.I. chased her off. He had another woman at the home, while he was waiting on his ex to drop the kids off.
Suffice it to say, T.I.’s show wouldn’t have been possible without his family cooperating, but it’s unclear how much money he earned from their appearances, since he faces tax evasion charges of over 4.5 million dollars.
4 Family Of Five Feeds Tabloids
Another reality TV mom who didn’t seem to think twice about putting her kids on her show, you’d think Tori Spelling has had enough of living under a microscope. Back when she starred on Beverly Hills, 90210, Tori was a household name. Then she appeared in TV and independent films, starred in a 90210 spinoff, and wrote three books.
Maybe it’s just that Tori is used to being in front of cameras, since her dad produced 90210 and coached her on her acting chops from an early age. Then, while she was married to her first husband, Charlie Shanian, Tori met Dean McDermott.
The two began an affair that was later publicized, and Tori divorced Charlie in 2006. Less than a month later, Tori and Dean got married.
Later, Tori starred in a VH1 sitcom that “parodied” her public image. Then came a reality series focusing on Tori and her second husband Dean McDermott’s relationship and daily life- Tori & Dean: Inn Love. They also had five children- Liam, Stella, Hattie, Finn, and Beau- plus Dean has an older son, Jack. Through their reality TV-documented lives, there’s been drama over Dean’s rocky relationship with Jack’s mom, Mary Jo Eustace.
Despite all the drama, the kids may have had a shot at a normal life had cameras not tracked their every move. While you’d assume that Tori would want to protect her kids from rumors about their mom’s past, plus criticism from the public, she doesn’t seem to have any qualms about involving the kids in her reality shows or talking about motherhood in her books.
3 Posh And Parenting
Victoria Beckham is arguably a successful businesswoman with or without her superstar husband David Beckham. Together, the duo have four children- sons Brooklyn, Romeo, and Cruz, and daughter Harper. While the Beckhams don’t have a history of selling family photos to tabloids or exploiting their children for profit, they’re also not shy about including the kids in their social media posts and promotional materials.
One of the more widely criticized photos of Victoria includes her smooching daughter Harper on the lips. While the photo caused an outcry from people who think kissing your children on the lips is somehow inherently sexual, plenty of parents came out in support of Posh. Other photos surfaced of David kissing their daughter as well, plus plenty of the parents kissing their boys, too.
While it’s debatable whether kissing your kids on the lips is bad- especially when they’re old enough to tell you no- it’s questionable why the superstar parents are posting the images publicly. In some shots, the couple’s older sons look a little uncomfortable with their parents’ displays of affection, and in the photo of Victoria kissing Harper, the little girl doesn’t seem to have a shirt on. But the fans want pictures of the gorgeous clan, and there are relatively few of them available. Maybe the Posh family does that on purpose?
2 Momager Makes The Money
Before her fall from grace, Lindsay Lohan was just another child star making her break into entertainment. She started out in The Parent Trap where eerie effects made her look like a set of twins. Then came Freaky Friday, Mean Girls, and Herbie: Fully Loaded. But it wasn’t simply Lindsay’s talent that drove her to fame and, later, that fall we mentioned.
Lindsay’s mom and manager, Dina Lohan, became famous when her daughter did. The mom also has three other kids, including daughter Ali, who is also in show business.
Dina has been accused of exploiting her daughters for her own fame, plus she’s been criticized for reportedly lying about her past as a Radio City Rockette.
There’s also the reality TV show that the mogul mom started with daughter Ali in 2008. Living Lohan only lasted one season, but Dina says it was because producers wanted her to do crazy and dramatic things for views. However, Lindsay’s drug and legal troubles no doubt keep Dina in the spotlight, too. It also helps that Dina has written a book that tells her own “truth,” giving her even more ways to gossip about and earn money from her daughter’s life and fame.
1 Publicity Doesn’t Pan Out
Will Smith didn’t need his children’s fame to help him out. After all, he’s been in at least 45 movies during his career. Of those, his kids Jaden and Willow have both appeared in a handful. In addition to his two kids with wife Jada, Will also has an older son, nicknamed Trey. And while Trey grew up nearly invisible in the background, Willow and Jaden have often stirred controversy.
Will and Jada are famously hands-off parents, but that doesn’t mean they don’t encourage their kids to step out into film or other roles. Willow’s song Whip My Hair topped the charts before she hit puberty, and Jaden has modeled women’s clothing in unconventional ad campaigns. The kids are out making money and keeping people tuned in to what’s going on in the family, and as E Online explains, their parents’ unorthodox parenting style is to blame for that.
The power couple are both artists, Will has said, so they encourage that in their kids. At the same time, Will admits that Jaden, for one, has no shame and is willing to try anything. Rather than protect his kids from the outside world, Will notes, he’d rather the kids explore and learn who they are on their own. While Will and Jada didn’t intentionally push their kids into the spotlight to influence their own fame, it seems like they’re hoping the next generation of Smiths follow in their footsteps career-wise.