From Hollywood icons to reality television stars, one thing that many celebrities have in common is parenthood. Although even the best of parents can have moments that they wouldn’t want the world to know about, many celebrity parents have their every move and choice as a parent scrutinized. Then there are a few celeb parents who have stood out for all-to-often getting the wrong kind of attention.
In some cases, it’s no wonder their parenting skills draw so much focus: for the likes of Honey Boo Boo’s mom Mama June, the infamous Octomom and the Duggars, parenthood is at the center of their fame. Others, such as actors and singers, are in the spotlight all of the time, so the attention they attract will inevitably include their children as well. All of the following parents have one thing in common: they have been heavily scrutinized by the public for their parenting choices. The endless focus on their hotly-contested parenting opinions have made them into some of the most controversial celebrity parents.
Octomom, whose real name is Nadya Suleman, grabbed headlines in the international press when she gave birth to octuplets in January of 2009. The birth itself was controversial and led to debate regarding the field of assisted reproductive technology. To make matters even more controversial, at the time she gave birth to eight children it was revealed that Suleman already had six other young children at home, was unemployed and dependent on public assistance programs. In an effort to raise money and take advantage of her place in the media spotlight, in 2012 she appeared in an adult film.
Mama June, the mother of child beauty pageant contestant and young reality star “Honey Boo Boo,” was introduced to the world on TLC’s reality series “Toddlers & Tiaras.” In 2012, TLC created a spinoff of the series that focused just on Honey Boo Boo and her parents called “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.” The show was controversial as soon as it aired, often accused of exploiting the young Honey Boo Boo and even exploiting her parents. Although the show was cancelled after several seasons, Mama June (June Thompson), continues to make headlines: recently, she appeared on Dr. Phil and discussed her relationship with a registered sex offender.
Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar are controversial because of their huge family and deeply conservative views, which they have displayed to the world on TLC’s reality series “19 Kids & Counting.” The series focuses on their family life as they raise 19 children. The fundamentalist Christian parents have attracted attention for their less-than-conventional views on parenting, including having their children wear modest clothing, not allowing them to dance or attend public school, and Michelle has stated that she doesn’t believe in birth control. The couple have also attracted scrutiny for their attitudes towards various social issues, including earlier this year when they deleted photos of same-sex couples kissing that had been posted to their Facebook profile.
Dubbed the Kardashian “momager” because she manages daughter Kim’s career and has been involved in the business management of her other daughters and son, Kris Jenner has made headlines for years, particularly after her family became reality television darlings. Unsurprisingly, she has drawn plenty of criticism as well, even from her own children: the Kardashian and Jenner sisters have all called out their mother for her attention-seeking ways. Over the years she has also spoken out on contested issues and has said controversial things, such as how she put her teenage kids on birth control as soon as they expressed interest in sex.
Back in 2007, “Jon & Kate Plus 8,” which was later renamed “Kate Plus 8” after the couple’s divorce, introduced the world to controversial parents Jon and Kate as they raised their eight children. However, letting cameras into their home (which subsequently launched the two to stardom) on the reality series was not without its drawbacks: the couple’s divorce was heavily reported in the media, and Kate began to speak her mind - and not everyone agreed with her. After speaking out about everything from discipline to her highly publicized divorce with her children's father to a “racist” photo of her wearing a plastic Geisha headpiece and pulling the corners of her eyes back, Kate has earned her status as a controversial mom. But she isn’t alone: Jon is not exactly perfect, either. Last year, he drew attention after he publicly claimed that the children have “developmental problems,” an issue that Kate was forced to respond to on her blog.
Jenny McCarthy has been at the center of stories about controversial moms, in particular because of her stances and views towards vaccinating children. Her points of view on vaccines have been called by critics as “dangerous” and she has even been accused of contributing to the sickness and death of children. Meanwhile, McCarthy has clarified her controversial stances on vaccines, saying she is not actually anti-vaccine but wants parents to carefully consider vaccinating their children. She received an onslaught of attention after she was asked to be a co-host on The View in 2012; her role with the show was a controversial choice and earned the network a lot of scrutiny throughout her entire run as co-host.
Supermodel and former Victoria’s Secret poster child Gisele Bundchen has been criticized for her controversial approaches to motherhood. Her children with Tom Brady have been at the centre of her unconventional statements about motherhood over the years, everything from her views on breastfeeding to eating during pregnancy to her opinions on how to give birth. Earlier this year, she once again attracted negative attention after she was photographed driving an ATV on a Costa Rica beach while casually holding her 1 year old in her arms with neither one of them wearing helmets.
The endless attention that Suri Cruise receives is no doubt an inevitable side effect of the star power of her parents, Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise, who had a highly publicized relationship that ended in divorce in 2012. Cruise has garnered attention for his controversial participation in Scientology, and speculation as to whether he will compel his daughter to practice it as well. Suri has appeared in the media throughout her life, particularly because she used to receive a lot of free gifts from designers and PR people that she would wear in public. In fact, the young girl was receiving so many designer clothes and gifts that Katie reportedly tried to get her daughter’s name off of the freebie list. But that wasn’t until after Siri had been spotted in public wearing cosmetics, elaborate designer dresses and even a fur coat and gold heels that were not considered age-appropriate by many critics.
Considering the endless parade of attention this couple receives, it is no surprise that Kimye also receive attention as parents to a young son, North West. Most recently, debate over Kim’s virtually nude cover of “Paper” magazine drew criticism because she was a mom. Many critics, including many other women and mothers, asked whether Kim should have posed in such a provocative photo since she is a mom. Others shot back at those criticisms, saying that people should not shame her for deciding to pose in such a way. (For her part, Kim stayed clear of that particular debate.)
Actress Gwyneth Paltrow and her internet presence as a mom (to children Apple and Moses) and lifestyle blogger have been sparking controversy for years now, which began when she named her daughter “Apple.” Most recently, she found herself in an all-out battle earlier this year after she claimed that a working mom’s 9-to-5 office job is easier than being on a film set. The public quickly took her down and the controversial statement turned into a debate about working moms vs. stay at home moms, with Gwyneth also weighing in (with even more controversial statements) via her own blog.
Superstar Britney Spears was no stranger to controversy long before she gave birth to two children, but she certainly began motherhood with a very rocky start. In 2005, she gave birth to her first son and then was photographed driving with him on her lap instead of in a car seat. She divorced her children’s father, Kevin Federline after the birth of her second son, and months later she lost custody of her children to him. All of this earned her endless headlines and criticism about her motherhood skills. By 2012, she had seemingly regained control of her life and earned back the custody of her children.
Earlier this year, actress Alicia Silverstone released a book on parenting called “The Kind Mama.” It instantly drew attention and criticism. The actress had been no stranger to negative attention for her unusual parenting convictions (she once shared a video of her toddler eating chewed-up food directly from her mouth, which led to media debate for weeks). In the candid book, however, she discussed many other controversial issues, such as her belief that babies don’t need diapers as well as her views on attachment parenting and the need for all parents to co-sleep with their children.
Abraham has been a controversial mom ever since her decision to appear on the first season of MTV’s (equally controversial) reality show “16 and Pregnant.” Abraham later appeared in the spin-off “Teen Mom” for four seasons. Since then, she’s consistently received media attention, drawing focus for her hotly contested choices. Most recently, earlier this year the 23-year-old mom grabbed headlines and earned endless criticism when it was revealed that she is a stripper at the Palazio Gentlemen’s Club. She has also shocked some by writing an erotic novel trilogy and started her own sex toy line, as well as hiring an adult film actor to create a sex tape, which she sold to a production company.