Helena Bonham Carter Needs Parenting Classes! Do You?

Helena Bonham CarterIt's hard to have any affection for the evil character Helena Bonham Carter plays in the new Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, but the actress is doing things in real life that make her a supermom.

The woman who brings Bellatrix Lestrange to life onscreen is using her time off from all things Harry Potter to take parenting classes even though she and quirky boyfriend Tim Burton have children at home aged 7 and 2 1/2.

I daresay I just developed a new Mom crush. If you've ever stood outside a school listening to the parents pat themselves on the back, you'll understand why.


The same woman who five, six years ago walked into a bookstore and swept every pregnancy how-to off the shelves and into her cart now fancies herself a parenting goddess.

Walk your kid into school with a snuffly nose, and she's off and running with 10 natural ways to fend off a cold. And Gawd forbid you mention you're having a hard time getting Junior to go to bed on time at night. She's never had a problem with Susie. You hear her? Never.

You'd think we're a nation of know-it-alls, but it's all a bunch of bluster.

As Bonham Carter said, "You know, no one taught me what to do .... They're teaching me some really interesting things, like it's not your job to know everything .... You've got to get them to think for themselves."

She reminds me of something my parents told me frequently: "Your baby didn't come with an instruction book, and if she did, she didn't read it anyway." In other words, you can never be perfectly prepared. And in a world where Moms list Supernanny as their favorite TV show and one estimate claims there are some 10,000 parenting titles in bookstores, it's obvious there are still people searching for answers even if they're loathe to admit it in the school pick-up line.

But reading a book is one thing. Parenting classes are largely considered the bastion of teenage numskulls who got knocked up and need some hard lessons before the baby arrives. Or worse, they're designed for parents who have lost their kids to the foster system for something particularly egregious and now have to prove they won't entirely screw the kids up if they get them back. 

It's a reputation that's completely unfair. Look at this one called “Redirecting Children’s Behavior." Parents can learn "how to discipline without yelling; ways to build and enhance your children’s self-esteem; how to develop a strong sense of responsibility in your children; and how to create an encouraging family environment." Who hasn't felt like their kids could use a self-esteem boost?

Or how about "Putting Kids First"? It's an online class, and they can help you help your kids through a divorce. With that "50 percent of marriages end in divorce" statistic you always hear (whether it's true or not), that sounds like it could be useful to thousands of families.

And it's not all gloom and doom. Bonham Carter reports she's actually having fun at the classes. Considering this is a woman who got to star in the coolest movie of the year, that's saying something. Even better? She feels better about herself these days.

"What a relief, I don't have to know everything," she said.

Nobody does.


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