Parents

Jennifer Garner opens up on TODAY Show about life with Ben Affleck and kids

Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck have three beautiful children together, and while the past year has seen big changes for mom and dad, one thing hasn't changed at all — they put the needs of their kids first.

As the busy actress told TODAY's Natalie Morales, 'You don't have a choice. I mean, it has to be."

That simple fact of parenting just makes sense to Garner, who, since her breakup with Affleck, has embraced her family's new normal.

"We are definitely a modern family," she said with a smile. "We're doing really well."

RELATED: Jennifer Garner talks faith, breakup with Ben Affleck: 'We will make it work'

In fact, earlier this year, Garner and Affleck teamed up for a vacation with the kids in Europe.

"Ben was working in London, on 'Justice League,' and I felt like, 'Well, the kids should have that experience,'" she said. "And he and I are great friends, and we just all went en masse."

Prioritizing what's best for their children is nothing new for Garner — neither is fighting for it.

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Jennifer Garner: 'Nine Lives' teaches that family time is precious

Play Video - 3:44

Jennifer Garner: 'Nine Lives' teaches that family time is precious

Play Video - 3:44

In 2013, she fought alongside fellow stars, including Halle Berry, for California legislation that would protect her children and other celebrity kids from intrusive and possibly dangerous paparazzi encounters. She won that battle, and she's already seeing the benefits.

In the past, Garner's youngest son, 4-year-old Samuel, urged her to shoo the paparazzi away. "Mom, go out and tell them your son does not like it,'" she recalled him saying.

RELATED: Jennifer Garner on Ben Affleck: 'He's the love of my life'

But now? "It is so much better," she said. "I really do thank all of the legislators who saw the wisdom in not allowing paparazzi to lie in wait outside of your school, outside of doctors' offices, pediatricians' offices, outside of your, you know, your home."

And Garner's not just a protective mom in real life. It's a role she often plays on the big screen, too.

"I'm really glad that I'm playing moms, because there's no more rich time in women's lives than when you have your babies, and when you're trying to figure out how to parent them and balance everything, and the emotional weight of seeing your children struggle, or whatever it is," she explained. "There's so much there to draw from, that it feels like I've aged into where I should be as far as acting goes. You know what I mean? ... As far as my career, I feel like I finally fit."

You can see Garner's latest maternal turn in a movie starting this Friday, when the family comedy "Nine Lives" opens in theaters nationwide.

Follow Ree Hines on Twitter.

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