Reese Witherspoon says she's a 'terrible' driver and her daughter might be 'bad' at basketball — and experts say brutal honesty can be critical to success

reese Witherspoon

  • Reese
    says she’s brutally honest with her kids about what
    they’re bad at.
  • She once told her now 19-year-old daughter she might be
    bad at basketball.
  • Witherspoon’s husband appears to be equally honest with
    her about her weaknesses.
  • Experts say being honest with others — and with
    yourself — can pay off.

A recent feature in Fast Company, titled “A
day in the life of Reese Witherspoon
,” offers some insight not
only into the actress and entrepreneur’s daily routine, but
also into her feelings on “brutal honesty.”

Here’s Witherspoon, as told to Mary Kaye Schilling: “I feel like
I’m constantly counteracting pressure from the parents who want to
make the lives of their kids golden and magical at all moments!
Guess what, kids? You’re going to be disappointed and uncomfortable
once in a while.”

Witherspoon shares a personal example of how she took the faux
gold and magic out of parenting:

“I remember Ava [her daughter, now 19 years old] crying in bed
in third grade — she was on JV basketball and she was the only
kid on the team who didn’t score. I said, ‘Aves, maybe
you’re bad at basketball.’ She thought that was mean. I said,
‘Mean or true? ‘Cause, guess what? Your mom’s bad at basketball,

Brutal honesty seems to be the MO in Witherspoon’s marriage as
well. Witherspoon told Fast Company: “I quit driving a year ago. My
husband [Jim Toth] said, ‘Babe, you’re a terrible driver. Get
someone to do that for you.’ And it’s great because that’s the time
I now spend catching up on phone calls or texts.”

asked 4 pairs of relationship experts married to each other how
they keep from fighting, and everyone had the same tip

Witherspoon isn’t the only parent who’s talked up the benefits
of being candid with their kids. On
, Janelle Hanchett, author of “I’m
Just Happy to Be Here: A Memoir of Renegade Mothering
,” writes
that she told her daughter (coincidentally, also named Ava) she
wasn’t good at sports.

Hanchett remembers explaining to Ava, “You’re in 5th grade and
read Charles Dickens. That ain’t normal. But you’ve done it without
even trying. … But all of us also have things that we are NOT
naturally good at. If we want to get good at those things, we
absolutely can, but we have to put in twice the effort of the
people around us to get to the decent point and even harder if we
want to excel.”

Apparently, Ava got the drift.

Be honest with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses

Even if you’re not brutally honest with others about their
shortcomings, being honest with yourself is important. In another

Fast Company article
, Mike Templeman, founder of Foxtail
Marketing, writes that “you shouldn’t be bogged down by your
weaknesses that have no bearing on you becoming a huge

By contrast, if there are weaknesses that will affect your
ability to become successful, work on them!  To borrow from
Templeman’s example, if you’re a charismatic person with great
ideas, you might want to pursue public speaking. And if you’ve got
a habit of using filler words, that’s something you should probably

Sometimes, being aware of your weaknesses can help you
capitalize on them, instead of ignore them. (I’ll refer you to the
idea of the
fixed versus growth mindset

In his book “Barking
Up the Wrong Tree
,” Eric Barker wrote that some of the world’s
most successful people have achieved fame and glory because of —
not in spite of —
their eccentricities
. For example, Michael Phelps has an
unusual body type, which makes him an outstanding swimmer, but
probably not a great runner.

As Hanchett writes on, it’s important to let your
kids know they aren’t the best at everything. “Wouldn’t she
[Hanchett’s daughter] also think the world should be working for
her? There’s a word for that. It’s called ‘entitled.'”

SEE ALSO: Silicon
Valley parents are so panicked about kids’ screen time that they’re
having nannies sign ‘no-phone contracts’ and posting photos of
rule-breakers online

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Reese Witherspoon says she's a 'terrible' driver and her daughter might be 'bad' at basketball — and experts say brutal honesty can be critical to success