Parenting is hard — and parenting in the spotlight can be even harder. The more privileged a mom's life appears, the more that people will judge everything from how she uses her baby gear to how she disciplines them. While sometimes the criticisms can be over the top, at times it is the media's job to say something for fear that the baby could be in trouble.
The judgment can go back to the "Mommy Dearest" days, when the media cringed at the way that Joan Crawford treated her adopted daughter. Sometimes, celebrities make surprising headlines during custody cases that shed surprising light on how they parent, and other times their friends tip us off to the skills that they are lacking. The paparazzi can reveal a lot, as they did when they captured photos of Britney Spears driving off with her infant son in her lap just a few months before her erratic behavior made us realize her children were in even more danger than we thought.
While we're not sure if the media should worry about the messy job of housekeeping that Jessa Duggar Seewald does, they were absolutely right about the danger that her sister Jill's missionary trip to Central America held. The controversy educated a lot of people, so it's certainly worth calling out celebrities who do wrong by their kids — for the kids' sake and our own.
Here are 20 celebs whose parenting was called out by the media.
20 Blac Chyna's Stroller Swing
As a former dancer turned reality star who has made headlines for plenty of poor decisions, no one ever accused Blac Chyna of being the mom of the year. But she seemed to do an OK job of taking care of her son King Cairo and her daughter Dream. In fact, considering all of the poor decisions Dream's dad Rob Kardashian has made, there were plenty of people who were glad to see that she had retained custody when they broke up.
That is, until Chyna took her two kids to Six Flags Mountain Magic outside Los Angeles earlier this spring. There, she sent everyone from the media to the social stratosphere to have major concerns. Apparently a woman got a little too close to Dream and she actually touched the child. We understand that she wouldn't want people that close to her kid, but Chyna overreacted.
Instead of letting her security team keep her girl safe, Chyna started swinging — she was caught on camera wielding her daughter's stroller at the stranger.
It set off a firestorm and caused Chyna to lose at least one endorsement deal — from a stroller company of all things. Chyna said she isn't physically confrontational, but the video tells a different tale. The rumors are that Chyna has another baby on board, but we have to call out her parenting at this point. We hope she calms down and doesn't use the baby gear as a weapon.
19 Royal Car Seat Concerns
Fans around the world waited anxiously for the arrival of the future king of England, when William and Kate were pregnant with their first child. In fact, people and press lined up outside of the hospital when news of the birth spread, hoping to catch a glimpse of the baby boy. But because of that photo op, William and Kate got a dose of how the media can call out celebrities for their parenting just a day into the job.
While most people focused on the lovely image of Kate holding the baby, later named George, on the hospital steps, there were some that zoomed in on the image of Wills taking the car seat out to the car, noticing a major mistake in how his son was secured inside.
It appears that the baby is still swaddled, which means that the five-point harness does not go properly around the baby's legs. Even if the legs are correct, because it is hard to tell in this shot, there is definitely a blanket around the baby, and that is a big no-no on its own.
Parents are warned to take coats and blankets from around the baby before putting them in the car seat. That allows them to be snuggly against the straps, as some babies have been accidentally ejected from their seats in an accident because of their coats and blankets. You can put a blanket over the baby after he is strapped in properly, a tip that William and Kate probably learned after the paparazzi picture.
18 Zika Worries For Jill
Going on a mission trip is a valuable thing, and lots of people would even agree that it could be educational and formative for a child. But when it puts the baby's health at risk, most parents say that they would never do that. That's why the media called out Jill and Derick Dillard for their mission to Central America along with their infant son Israel.
At the time of the year-long mission trip, the region was going through an epidemic of the mosquito-borne disease known as the Zika virus. The thing is that the virus isn't particularly dangerous for adults, but kids can get pretty sick.
And the worst part is that pregnant women can pass along the disease to their unborn child, including causing the birth defect of microcephaly, which hampers the baby's brain development. Since the Duggars have so many kids and don't believe in birth control, people weren't just worried for little Israel; they were also concerned that Jill could get pregnant and have a child that contracted the devastating condition. They couldn't believe that the couple would risk the health of their children that way. But luckily they survived the trip, and Jill and Derick got pregnant with their second child after they returned home.
17 Jessa's Messy House
Keeping up with the kids is one thing. Keeping up with the house can be another issue entirely. But the media and tons of so-called fans got super angry about the job that Jessa Duggar Seewald was doing on one and said it relfected poorly on her ability to do the other.
Jessa posted photos of her messy house in February to point out how hard it is to keep up with everything when you are a mom to two very small children.
But instead of people getting the message that Jessa puts her sons Spurgeon and Henry first, they actually called out her parenting, calling her lazy and some other choice words.
The laundry was piled on a bed, and the living room had a smattering of baby gear and toys and other issues. The diapers had stacked up, overflowing the diaper pail, and there were dirty dishes in the sink. This picture probably looks familiar to a lot of moms out there who are doing their best to take care of the kids and keep up with the chores, but there are people who thought that the conditions were unsanitary and unsafe for Jessa's family to live in. Jessa has taken her criticism for posting videos of her son playing a little game that he thought was hilarious but that others worried was dangerous, and people went ballistic for her kids playing near a highway. Jessa is young and she is learning the dos and don'ts of parenthood — so far, her kids are doing OK. Parenting is hard, and even though our house isn't always ready for company doesn't mean that our kids are unsafe.
16 Kim's Kid Takes Inappropriate Pics
Kim Kardashian West takes so many controversial pics that they don't really make the news anymore. It's just what happens on Wednesdays or something like that. But one picture from early 2018 started CNN and just about everyone else talking. It wasn't because of the picture but because of the photographer. It was Kim's daughter with Kanye West who captured the half-dressed moment. Yes, her 4-year-old North was the one who took the picture.
Kim gave her little one credit, but people were not having it. They called her out for her parenting when she was willing to be dressed like that in front of her preschooler. When your lifestyle is so much about your looks, it's hard to keep it from impacting your kid. But on the other hand, her daughter was playing with her phone while she changed clothes. That's something that happens to a lot of moms, especially when they have girls who haven't even entered kindergarten yet.
The comments ranged from "Why would you get your daughter to take a pic like this? Come on Kim" to "Kids see their Parents [like this] ALL the time. it's normal up to a certain age. No big deal." Both sides have a point, but it really got the media talking.
15 Mama Duggar's Critics
We shouldn't be surprised at all the times that people call out Jessa and Jill for their parenting. After all, their mother Michelle Duggar has faced media firestorms for more than a decade while raising her 19 kids in the spotlight. From national outlets to television talk shows to at-home bloggers, members of the media have had a lot to say about the matriarch, from calling out her buddy system of pairing up her children to getting them on a system to cook the meals and do the laundry and even calling her selfish after her youngest baby was born premature. Jezebel magazine even called the Duggars a "cult" instead of a family.
The worst criticism came in 2015, when the scandal over the oldest son Josh became public. Michelle and Jim Bob chose to have him be sent to a religious counselor instead of facing jail time or therapy with a trained psychologist. Josh's sisters have said that they dealt with the painful situation as a family, and they forgive him — as does his wife Anna, who has remained with him since news broke that he was also unfaithful to her during their marriage, even while espousing religious views as a lobbyist in Washington. While many of the Duggars are now grown and either parents or becoming parents of their own, a lot of the criticism starts and ends with Michelle and Jim Bob.
14 Suri's Shoes
When Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes had a baby, she was the most talked about kid in the country, and there were plenty of times when people questioned their parenting. Reportedly, in fact, it was Tom's practice of scientology that apparently drove a wedge between them when it came to their daughter. The media talked about that one for sure, but we want to mention another more minor issue that caused a media firestorm — Suri's shoes.
The little girl has been wearing high heels since her preschool days, and when the paparazzi snagged a photo, everyone started talking about it. In fact, Suri's shoes were the basis of a 2013 New York Times article on the "mini-me" craze.
That's where moms were doing their daughters a disservice by putting them in the safe fashions as they wear, even if they aren't kid-friendly.
“You’re basically giving the green light to expediting childhood and going full speed on to womanhood,” one woman retailer said in the article. “Childhood is over soon enough as it is.” The article talked about everything from the psychology to the safety of the trend, and it was all attributed to the shoes that Katie Holmes allows her little girl to wear.
13 Farrah's Mini Promoter
There are a lot of questionable choices that the teen moms who starred on "16 and Pregnant" have made. But there is one that the media called them out for that definitely takes the cake. It's something that we never imagined could happen even when they were so young and not-so-smart. Farrah Abraham decided to act in adult films, and that is shocking enough, but she went a step further that made us really wonder about her parenting.
Last December, Farrah promoted an adult site on her daughter's Twitter account.
Yes, that is on the account of an 8 year old. While she pointed out during the backlash that the account is actually owned and operated by an adult, it's still supposed to be about little Sophia's life. We imagine that most of her followers are also pretty young, although most parents choose to keep their elementary schoolers off of social media altogether.
"What mom has her daughter at age 8 push her mom's [adult movie] career," one social media user said, according to OK Magazine. "Think that could get a kid taken away by CPS. Just unbelievable." It's definitely not enough to have Sophia taken away from her loving family, but it sure does deserve to be called out.
12 Kim Z's Call For Concert Tickets
We all love John Legend and we'd love to go to his concert, but Kim Zolciak-Biermann went way too far in her desire to go hear "Curves and Edges" that had us all questioning her parenting again. Kim's oldest daughter Brielle has done some pretty unbelievable things, and she has taken after her mother with plastic surgery and fashion, but we would have thought the Kim would still encourage her daughter to have a healthy lifestyle. Well, a 2017 tweet had us questioning everything and calling out her parenting.
Kim tweeted Chrissy Teigen about wanting to meet Legend when he came to town for a concert. She actually included the phrase "who does Brielle have to [hook up with] in order to meet him?" Ummm, what? Did she just joke about selling out her kid. I mean, we sure hope it's a joke. When the uproar began, that's what Kim claimed, but why in the world wouldn't she say "who do I have to [hook up with]" instead of her 20-year-old daughter.
Chrissy did her best to discourage the behavior while trying to be a bit jokey. She said the show wasn't worth the action, but then said it was good but she could get tickets "without [all that]." We're sure that Kim has the funds to get concert tickets, so we're surprised she has to even resort to such a shocking and awful phrase that definitely makes people call out her parenting.
11 Chrissy's Night Out Drama
Chrissy Teigen has shared her joys and pain as a new parent. The supermodel and more has been so open about her experience, from fertility struggles to postpartum depression, and we were all really excited to see her become a mom to little Luna, her first child with John Legend. But of course, people had to find something to hate right away. The first time people called out her parenting came just two weeks after the baby's birth.
Many moms decide to burrow themselves at home in the first month or two after the birth. Between the feedings and the diapers and their fear of germs, they stay home with the baby all the time.
So people went crazy when John and Chrissy had a date without the baby when she was just a couple of weeks old.
The nightmare of backlash was crazy, especially when Chrissy and John just ate a quick dinner and were back home in the time it took for Luna to take a nap. Chrissy has had to defend her parenting all too often, but this one was just silly. Some moms need to get out of the house for their own sanity. It's absolutely fine to take a break, as long as there is a caretaker at home that you trust.
10 Alicia Silverstone Pre-Chewing Her Kid's Food
Decisions on feeding are one of the most controversial parts of parenting these days. But this entry isn't about the debate on breastfeeding versus bottle-feeding or when to start solids. Alicia Silverstone went a step way out for her son Bear Blu back in 2012.
She actually fed her 10-month-old like a bird, chewing his food for him with her own teeth and then dropping it from her mouth into his.
Alicia became famous in the movie "Clueless," and her parenting made us wonder if she was a little clueless herself. People all over the media and elsewhere were shocked by the photos and the stories. It was so out of the norm, and it made us all worry about how hygienic that could be. Talk about transferring germs. We're all for baby-led weaning or even giving your baby a jar of baby food to introduce him to food. But if the baby doesn't have any teeth, we question whether it's a good idea to let him borrow someone else's.
"I can understand that it would make some people feel uncomfortable, possibly, because it's new to them," Alicia said to defend herself. "But I do want to let you know that this has been going on for thousands of years — still going on all over the place — and it's natural." Um, they didn't use car seats back then either, but we think it's a better idea to just mash up a banana with a fork if you have to.
9 Blue Ivy's Natural Hair
In many people's eyes, Beyonce can do no wrong. But a few years ago, people took umbrage with her parenting in a way that you could never imagine happening.
People actually started a petition that made news across the globe. It's all because they thought little Blue Ivy's hair looked unkempt.
They thought that the woman who spends so much time and money on her own appearance should pay a lot more attention to her daughter's hairdo.
Blue Ivy has beautiful natural hair, and we totally agree that she's too young to use adult methods of hairstyling. But a lot of people thought that Bey and Jay needed to do more to tame her curls. They encouraged braiding and worried that little Blue Ivy's hair wasn't brushed. It took weeks for people to get over it. Nowadays, Blue Ivy usually looks very pampered. There is usually not a hair out of place, and all too often we've seen her dressed to the nines, slaying in gorgeous, glamorous clothes.
We're not sure what happened back in the day, but we do know that some days toddlers throw tantrums that make it not worth the fight to brush their hair before getting out the door. We're sure that Bey and Jay took great care of Blue, even if she had the occasional bad hair day.
8 Tom Brady's Kisses Questioned
The Boston Globe has covered Tom Brady for years. But usually reporters focus on things like pass ratings, touchdowns and injury recovery. This February, though, they got involved in the great kiss debate. The Patriots were days away from playing in the Super Bowl, but instead of focusing on that, the media was making hay on the fact that Tom still kissed his kids on the mouth.
Some people found it really creep that on a television episode Tom kissed his oldest son, 12, on the mouth instead of on the cheek.
They aren't so concerned about the 6 year old. But some people went a bit crazy that he still kisses his 12 year old son in that manner.
The outrage was real, with a lot of people saying that the kiss was inappropriate. But how a father shows his affection is merely a personal choice. The real parenting concern would be if he doesn't show affection to his children. Some families kiss on the mouth even into adulthood, while others struggle with the idea once their child is out of diapers. The important thing is that Tom's kids feel loved. We wish everyone would leave Tom alone, so the Globe can get back to its usual football coverage.
7 Russell Wilson's Step-Son Situation
Being a step-parent is tough. There is a very fine line of what a person can do to support the child and his or her spouse without also stepping over the lines of the other parent. While the love is the same, the boundaries are different. Unfortunately, Russell Wilson has made a lot of people angry while showing his love to his wife Ciara and step-son Future. There have been a lot of articles and outrage about a few different situations.
One of the controversies came when Ciara, a musician, and Russell, a football star, announced that they were having a baby of their own. They included Future in a pregnancy photo shoot — and all three appeared with minimal clothes. It was a weird shoot, but add on to it that Future isn't Russell's son, and that made it even more uncomfortable for some people. Then, after the baby's birth, people took umbrage to Russell's Mother's Day message to Ciara.
Russell wrote: "Nothing better than spending time with you. You are an amazing mom & I'm so grateful I get to spend the rest of my life with you & raising our kids. I love you! #HappyMothersDay Weekend my love. @Ciara."
Some people had a problem with him saying "our kids," when Future is the son of rapper Future.
"Russ, go worry about your done career. The man's child can never be yours," one fan wrote, according to the New York Daily News. It might have been insensitive, but we think that Russell should be given props for treating his step-son like one of his own.
6 Britney's Breakdown and Her Boys
When Britney Spears married backup dancer Kevin Federline, a lot of entertainment figures said they thought that trouble was coming — but most didn't know that Britney would be the one to cause it. The pop princess had a mental health breakdown like few had ever seen before.
She once got into her car holding her infant son instead of putting him into the car seat as she tried to escape the paparazzi, but that was just the tip of the ice berg.
Britney went from partying too much in clubs to shaving her head and hitting a car with an umbrella. She was in and out of treatment facilities and her behavior was so erratic that she lost custody of her boys Preston and Jayden. Her parents were able to get a judge to put her into a conservatorship so that they could have some say in how her money was spent and her career was managed. It was a major meltdown that was covered by media around the world at every bend.
Britney has led a fairly low-profile life for a while, although she continues to make some appearances and has her own show in Las Vegas. According to a timeline on CBSNews.com, Kevin still has full custody of her children, although she has more visitation and is a major part of their lives.
5 Kristin's Thin Kids
Who would have thought that an adorable vacation picture — one that looks like a high-end fashion ad, no less — would get people talking about your parenting? Well, that's what happened to Kristin Cavallari. The former reality star and lifestyle princess got called out in July 2016 when she posted a photo of her boys in matching swim trunks playing by the water with their dad, NFL quarterback Jake Cutler.
In the fashion of celebrities who try to save their kids from overexposure, Kristin posted a photo that featured the boy's backs.
But it was the fact that you could count every vertebra that could that attention of people. People started a firestorm of worry over whether her children were too thin.
One of the tamest comments quoted by The Stir was, "Sometimes when parents eat so healthy they neglect the nutritional needs of the child,"
Jake's gotten a little bit of flak himself for his dad bod, but both he and Kristin are really trim people who passed along their genes to their youngsters. We think that might have something to do with it. "Yep, I starve my children. Just blocked the most people I’ve ever blocked in my entire life," Kristin responded on social media.
4 Jwoww's Pool Safety Opinions
Apparently summer time is treacherous for celebrity babies, if the mom-shamers have anything to do with it. The same week that Kristin Cavallari's vacation pics made headlines, so did Jwoww's. She posted an adorable shot of her newborn Greyson hanging out in the pool with his dad, but people questioned her parenting that she would allow a baby that young to be in the water.
News outlets like The Stir quoted the commenters that range from "Way too small for a pool" to "Put sunscreen on that child," as if they knew that Jwoww had skipped that step with no evidence of it whatsoever.
I mean, we can't see the sunscreen, but the baby does have on a swimshirt and an adorable little hat. In her response, the "Jersey Shore" star assured us that the 2-month-old tot was just fine, as he appeared to be in the photo. She pointed out that she is in the tanning industry and knows all about sunscreen and how to apply it to a baby. Also, her baby was in the pool for a short time, and it's not like they just dropped him in to see if he would swim, although some people do that. This was a story that didn't warrant any media attention. It looks like Jwoww is doing just fine with her kids.
3 Madonna's Stern Style
Custody battles can get brutal when you are a celebrity. When a mom and a dad are fighting for the best interest of their child, it might mean that some information leaks out a bit, and that is what happened for Madonna. She doesn't often talk about her kids — in fact, we didn't know for sure that she had adopted her youngest two for a while — but things became more public in 2016, when we learned a little more about her parenting because of a custody fight with ex-husband Guy Ritchie.
According to reports in People and other news outlets, Madonna is a very strict parent with a stern style that wasn't helping her parent her son Rocco.
The then-15-year-old left her mom's tour and went to live with his dad in England, but things got ugly when Madonna wanted him to come back home. A friend of Ritchie's told People that Guy had struggled as a child with dyslexia, which lead him to think that Madonna's parenting was counterproductive.
“He wants Rocco to have the confidence he lacked growing up and thinks Madonna’s stern parental style is counterproductive,” the source is quoted as saying. “The welfare of Rocco is Guy’s priority.” Rocco remained with Guy for a while, but he does spend time with his pop star mom.
2 Will And Jada's Weird Ways
Will and Jada Smith have been celebrities for a long time. They were practically kids when they became famous, and now they have kids of their own. They are definitely free spirits, though, and that has caused some people in the media to call them out for their weird ways and the ways that it has impacted their children Trey (who was born during Will's first marriage), Jaden and Willow. Jaden and Willow, especially, have made some headlines for being a bit out there themselves, and that may be because of how their parents chose to parent them.
Will said back in 2013 — during the kids' formative years — that he and his wife don't punish their kids.
"They are responsible for their lives," he said. "Our concept is, as young as possible, give them as much control over their lives as possible and the concept of punishment, our experience has been—it has a little too much of a negative quality." They also encourage creative expression and allow her daughter to take control of her body. Those traits certainly can help kids to feel empowered and to learn to love themselves, and we think that is admirable — but we're not sure about the no punishment thing. That could lead to kids not understanding that their actions have consequences. So far, though Jaden and Willow haven't broken any laws, and they seem to be happy, healthy and creative youngsters.
1 Alec Baldwin's Mean Message
Speaking of bad celebrity breakups, sometimes they reveal every worst moment a parent has — and when there is evidence of it, it'll be used in a court of law and in the court of public opinion.
That's the lesson we all learned when Alec Baldwin left a rant on his daughter's voicemail back in 2007 when she was just 11 years old. Alec got frustrated when his daughter with Kim Basinger missed a phone call that was scheduled by the court.
The worst part was he called her — his own little girl — a "rude thoughtless, little pig."
The incident didn't just hurt his relationship with his daughter Ireland. It also hurt his career and made him a bit of a pariah in the public eye for a while. It took a while, but Alec said in People that he and his daughter — who is now a supermodel — are on pretty good terms. He's gotten back in our good graces too, and now Alec has just welcomed his fifth child — his fourth with wife Hilaria. We hear he's a good dad these days, but everyone really questioned that a decade ago when his worst parenting mistake was caught on audio.
References: New York Daily News, Us Magazine, Huffington Post, ET Online, OK Magazine, Boston Globe, CNN, New York Times, ET Online, Baby Center, CBS News, The Stir, Inquisitr, The Hollywood Gossip, InTouch Weekly, People, E! Online, VH1, The Stir