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Journey to Parenthood

TV Host Nancy O’Dell Gives Advice on Parenting Priorities

Photo: Courtesy of Monica Hervey

Television host and entertainment journalist Nancy O’Dell shares her advice on balancing motherhood and a thriving career.

What was the best advice on motherhood that you have received?

The best advice I have ever received is to make your child feel like they are the most loved child in the world. This is advice that was not spoken to me, but rather demonstrated by my parents. I always knew my parents would be there for me for anything and everything I could ever need. Some people think to always be there for your child will make them too dependent, but it’s actually the opposite. It creates a beautiful and strong independence.

Your parents should be your team, your army, your cheerleaders, and your supporters who will love you no matter what. My parents demonstrated this by being there and being involved. I felt like I could talk with my mom about anything, and I knew she would have my back always. If I needed help understanding homework, my mom and dad always had time. They never missed my events unless it was an emergency or some crazy circumstance. I’ll never forget my Dad actually crying because he was in the ICU on the night of my high school graduation. He told me, “You worked so hard to be valedictorian, and now I can’t be there because I’m in the hospital.” He wound up hiring a videotaping company so he could watch it.


How would you describe your parenting style? 

I would describe myself as a very present parent. I want to be at all of my daughter’s sporting events. I can remember one of her soccer games falling on the day of the Grammys. I hated that, but I still made the first half and then ran off to get into a gown. I just want to make sure she knows she is beyond loved, and that her mom is always here for her.

What element of being a working mom surprised you the most?

It’s true what they say that there is no other love quite like the love for your child. I did not realize how much I would miss my daughter when I was at work. I always say, coming home to her is like medicine. When I come home from work and she runs to give me a hug, it makes any troubles or frustrations of the day disappear. 

How has working in the entertainment industry impacted your views on parenthood?

It has actually made my views on parenthood even stronger. There is nothing as an employee that bothers me more than a boss who thinks work is more important than family. And there are a lot of people in this industry who seem to discount the importance of family. I always say if your employees feel happy about their home life and work/life balance, then they are better employees who will be more productive.

How did you cope with “mommy guilt” while away and working?

I would always try and figure out a way to do all the normal mom stuff. I have always wanted to be the one to take my daughter to school, and if I had an early taping and had to miss that, I would feel so guilty. So I figured out a way to get my hair and makeup done ahead of time at home, take my daughter to school, and then go in to work to tape the show. When my daughter was in Kindergarten, I would even go to school in curlers. That way, when I arrived at the studio, my hair was already set.

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