Thoughtful Quotes About Parenthood From Joan Cusack

The actor and her husband, Richard Burke, have two grown sons.
Joan Cusack and her family at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards on Sept. 15, 2013, in Los Angeles.
Joan Cusack and her family at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards on Sept. 15, 2013, in Los Angeles.

Joan Cusack has played many mom parts in films and TV shows, but it’s also a role she plays in real life.

The actor and her husband, Richard Burke, have two grown sons, Dylan and Miles. Since becoming a mom in 1997, she has shared snippets of her family life in Chicago during various interviews.

In honor of her birthday, here are 18 quotes about parenthood from Cusack.

On Raising Her Family In Chicago

“As my kids would say, ‘Chicago is awesome!’ It has rich culture and history, as well as some of the best museums, architecture and restaurants in the world. Plus, it prevents our family life from revolving around TV and the movies. In L.A. it’s easy to get caught up in what you look like or how much money you have, and those aren’t values I want my kids to adopt.”

On Her Hopes For Her Kids

“I want my kids to experience passion. I want them to see that I have things I feel passionate about because it is such a great feeling to really love something. My parents had five kids and we are all close. We were a traditional family. My mom didn’t have a job, she was just raising kids. My dad went out to work. He was a really funny man, very silly. He loved comedy. We would watch Mel Brooks movies and Monty Python and he would always find some humor in everything. He made home movies of us, and he would show them in the backyard. He was great fun.”

On Her Advice For Other Parents

“Don’t live vicariously through your kids or try to shape them into who you wanted to be, like the popular kid or an athlete. Children should be given the opportunity to be themselves.”

On The Traits She Wants To Instill In Her Kids

“Characteristics like honesty, integrity and compassion are important but I really want to foster each one’s sense of self. I want them to be able to recognize a challenge and meet it head-on without fear.”

On The Beauty Of Parenthood

“As a parent, you have to figure out how to shape your kid’s character. You want to have human beings who learn about good character. You have to be able to see your child with clarity, see the good side and the bad side of them, and work on the bad side and make them better so they fulfill their potential. You have to make them do stuff they don’t want to do, like take out the trash, while instilling in them all those difficult virtues that are not just about impulse gratification. Then there are those incredible moments when you see that they have learned or ‘got’ something. You see a quality in them that reminds you of your dad ― there’s all the joy of being a parent. It’s absolutely true that you would sacrifice your life for them.”

On Wanting To Raise Confident Kids

“I hope they’re never as shy as I am ― whether it’s around new people, big groups, or in a job interview. I want them to be able to relax without getting nervous. I think acting has helped me come out of my shell, because when I play a character I can’t be self-conscious.”

On Being Present But Not Overbearing

“I don’t want to be a helicopter parent, but I want to be there and help them grow. I can work ... I love working. And I think it’s good for your soul to work, and I want to work. But I also want to be able to be there to help them.”

On Her Parents’ Influence

“My dad was a very funny man ― he’s the one who taught me life would be awfully hard without humor! I’m sure his Irish wit in some way influenced my decision to become an actress. And my mom was politically active, so I try to educate Dylan and Miles about what’s going on in the world.”

On What Impresses Her Kids About Her Career

“Being in ‘Toy Story 2’ with Buzz Lightyear when Dylan was younger. But now they’re more impressed that I was in ‘School of Rock.’ Their friends thought it was awesome that I played the principal.”

On The Timelessness Of Parenthood

“It’s a thing primordial. It’s a thing that’s timeless about life. They’ve existed forever and they’ll continue to exist forever. As long as there are humans, there will be mothers and fathers and children. And you’ll either be a parent or a child, or both.”

On Teaching Her Kids About The World

“I think children are naturally curious, and I try to just encourage that.”

On The Hardest Part Of Being A Parent

“Juggling parental responsibilities with those of being a wife and a career woman ― while also being a member of school and church communities ― is difficult. Every day I feel like I dropped the ball somewhere, but I’ve learned not to beat myself up over it because that won’t help. I try to be a role model to my sons by showing them that no matter what kind of mistake a person makes, she can always get back up again and give it another shot.”

On Stressing About College Early On

“I have friends that are going through that stuff. There are some parents whose kids are in grade school who do think about colleges, and fortunately, I don’t have that particular burden.”

On Teaching Her ‘City Kids’ About Nature And Science

“I heard once that if you just don’t worry about everything being clean all the time, and let them makes messes occasionally, or let them look at what happens with the milk that spilled on the floor, how it travels or where it pools, that all can be naturally scientific. Granted, you have to be in the right mood!”

On Her Kids’ Knowledge Of Her Career

“They know about it and about some of the stuff that’s been in it ... We’ve had some really frank conversations where I’ve given truly Oscar-worthy performances of keeping a straight face when I was shocked and horrified about what they knew about.”

On Being A Parent, Not A Friend

“It’s harder to not be your kid’s friend but it’s more important. It’s another level of love that’s hard to understand. If you’re just their friend, you wouldn’t care as much as you do because you care at such a big level about your kids. You want to help shape them so you’re thinking about all aspects of them. A friend is really just a smaller relationship than what a mom really wants to do.”

On Keeping Her Family Grounded

“It’s that very laid-back Midwestern attitude that helps a lot! And recognizing when people are getting too stressed out and finding something relaxing and/or authentically fun to do.”

On Work-Life Balance

“My kids are my first priority always.”