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Brooke Shields on hardest part of parenting teen daughters: 'I am so not cool'

"They're going to say 'I hate you,' and they don't really mean it, but they do at that moment."
/ Source: TODAY

The challenges of parenting teens in the age of social media hits Brooke Shields in the face, sometimes figuratively and sometimes literally.

In the 1980s, Shields was the iconic American teenage girl. Now 55, she is raising two of her own, Rowan, 17, and Grier, 14, with husband Chris Henchy.

Shields told TODAY Parents there is one aspect of being their mother she didn't expect: "I am surprised by how much their approval in everything matters to me," she said.

"I don't remember my mom needing my approval as much as I needed my mom's approval — she was just a god to me," Shields said. "So I watch my girls, and I have to really be careful that I am not so needy of them, because they're going to say 'I hate you,' and they don't really mean it, but they do at that moment."

Though she admits her ego takes hits sometimes, "I have to remind myself I'm their mother, it's OK, and tell myself 'They love you, don't get needy and clingy, because you're going to push them away,'" she said.

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Shields has learned to laugh at herself and roll with the sometimes literal punches of motherhood, such as when oldest daughter Rowan accidentally gave her a fat lip while pulling off a TikTok prank last May.

Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, Rowan talked her mother into starting a TikTok account. "When I joined TikTok, I joined it because my daughter said, 'I will do it for you, I will navigate it for you, let's do this together,'" Shields said.

The day Rowan tried the viral TikTok prank that involved hitting a passenger in the car with a purse, her daughter forgot, Shields said, that she had a big bottle of sunscreen in it. The result was a surprisingly hard hit to her mother's famous face.

"I had no idea what was happening and thought, 'Why is she fumbling in her purse so much?' and then she whacked me so hard," Shields said. "At first, I couldn't tell if I was mad at her, or insulted, or what."

Rowan spent the rest of the day profusely apologizing, but Shields couldn't help but laugh about it.

"I love humor, and I love getting called out as long as it's not mean-spirited," she said. "And I really believe that she didn't mean it to hurt. I was just so happy she wanted me to do anything with her on TikTok, because I am so not cool."

Shields said despite Rowan's initial promises to help her mom with TikTok, "She made me join it, but then she abandoned me." Shields has thus missed the recent debates started by teenagers claiming when women style their hair in a side part or wear skinny jeans they look "old."

However, she confirmed the middle part is the choice for the women of her household. "I always play with my hair, so I have to start it in the middle," she said. "When I am on camera, it has to be in the middle, because sometimes when it goes to the side, it looks like I have no hair now because my hair has thinned out."

Shields has been open about other aspects of aging on Instagram, where she shares her home workouts and and glimpses into her skincare routine regularly and recently showed her beginning the road to recovery from breaking her leg in a freak accident. She's also currently working with Colgate Renewal to promote a line of toothpaste that can help with another aspect of aging that took her by surprise: gum damage.

"I hadn't even heard of the words 'gum damage.' You think about your skin, brushing your teeth, flossing...I didn't know that there was 'innovative gum care.' It was a revelation to me," she laughed. But Shields said at this point, she wants to be proactive "in any area of my life I have even a modicum of control over... I really believe in a healing, positive attitude and taking advantage of what is available to you and benefitting from it."

As for the skinny vs. mom jeans question, the woman who is still famous for her relationship with Calvin Klein jeans in the '80s said that these days, she likes either skinny or baggier jeans, depending on what she is pairing them with — as long as they have higher waistbands.

"I do like the over-the-bellybutton (waistband]) situation, because for a while, all my jeans were below the bellybutton," she said.

"And I was like, 'Oh no, that can't happen anymore!'"