Jane Fonda said it best when she said (via Vogue), “You don’t learn from successes, you don’t learn from awards, you don’t learn from celebrity, you only learn from wounds and scars and mistakes and failures. And that’s the truth.”
The actress was certainly a credible source on celebrity, making her quote that much more significant. Fonda came from famous parents and enjoyed many A-list friendships, especially a close relationship with Dolly Parton. She’s also (obviously) super tight with Lily Tomlin, her Grace and Frankie co-star.
Despite all of these happy factors, Fonda has also had tough moments throughout her life, full of tragic details. One major struggle for her was her tough relationship with her parents. In light of this, it makes sense that Fonda has had a lot to say about her own role as a mother to her three children. While she might have some regrets about parenting in the past, Fonda spoke honestly and optimistically about her relationship with her kids. “I didn’t know how to do it,” Fonda told The Edit. “But you can learn, so I studied how to be a parent. It’s never too late,” (via Closer Weekly).
Fonda added that she was trying to “make up” for the things she “didn’t know before.” Fonda explained: “When I die, I want my family to be around me. I want them to love me and I have to earn that. I’m still working at it.” With this hopeful backdrop, who are Fonda’s kids?
Jane Fonda's struggles with postpartum depression
Jane Fonda had her first child, Vanessa Vadim, with French screenwriter and director Roger Vadim, her first husband, according to Closer Weekly. Fonda and Vadim were married from 1965-1973 and they had Vanessa in 1968 in Paris, France. While the birth sounds very lavish and continental, Fonda struggled with postpartum depression, according to Vanity Fair. Fonda didn’t know much about the phenomenon and “cried for a month,” the magazine noted in their profile of her.
According to the outlet, Fonda wrote of the experience: “I just felt that I had failed — that nothing was turning out the way it was supposed to, not the birth, not the nursing, not my feelings for my child or (it seemed to me) hers for me.”
Despite those early struggles, Vanessa has gone on to thrive as a director and has worked on several films, including Jane Fonda in Five Acts, according to her IMDb credits. She was also the director of The Quilts of Gee’s Bend and was the production assistant on the documentary, Blue is Beautiful.
Vanessa is married to Paul Van Waggoner and together they have two children, according to a later publication by Closer Weekly. What about Fonda’s other two children?
Jane Fonda expands her family
After parting ways with Roger Vadim, Jane Fonda married Tom Hayden in 1972, according to Closer Weekly. They welcomed a son, Troy Garity, who has also embarked on an acting career. He had an ongoing role in the TV series Ballers and a part in the film Bandits, among many other projects. Troy is active on Instagram with photos of his film and TV projects, so it’s clear that passion for acting runs in the family.
Fonda and Hayden’s family grew again in 1982 when they informally adopted Mary Luana Williams. They met Mary at the Laurel Springs Children’s Camp, which had been founded by Fonda. She was the daughter of Black Panthers but with her father in prison and her mother an alcoholic, Fonda and Hayden adopted Mary when Mary was 14.
Fonda offered Mary the chance to live at her home and Mary stayed into adulthood. Her brother, Troy, spoke to Oprah about Mary moving in. “She just sort of came down [to live with us] and it was fine and happy for me because it was somebody that I had a connection with,” he said (via HuffPost).
Mary wrote a memoir called The Lost Daughter about her life. For Fonda, the experience of raising Mary was healing. “She helped me to become whole. I think I learned as much or more from [Williams] as she did from me. But on a psychological level, she helped complete me,” Fonda revealed (via HuffPost).
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