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Queen Latifah Shares Why Listening to Kids Is So Important

Photograph by StarPix/REX/Shutterstock

Queen Latifah might not be a mom, but the actress, producer and hip-hop diva knows more than a little about kids.

After all, Latifah has been part of the family-friendly "Ice Age" franchise as Ellie, the matriarch of the mammoth family, since its second incarnation in 2006.

In the franchise's fifth film, "Ice Age: Collision Course," arriving in theaters today, Ellie and Manny (Ray Romano) get ready for their daughter Peaches (Keke Palmer) to "leave the nest."

Latifah also teamed up recently with Mattel to celebrate the launch of the new Barbie, which is more reflective of real women, featuring dolls of different shapes, sizes, skin tones and hair types.

She took a break from promoting her projects to share with mom.me what kind of stories she feels children need to see and hear in films today.

"I think it's always important that kids see themselves reflected in the stories they see," Latifah said at a recent press conference, "so anything that speaks to being OK with being yourself, with being 'different' being normal."

MORE: "Ice Age: Collision Course" Movie Review

Latifah also says that we should show more compassion and be more inclusive as a society, not just with children, but adults, too.

"I think we can completely disagree respectfully, and we should see what it looks like to not agree with someone at all but yet not kill them, not take their head off, not bully them," she said. "It's not to say those things don't exist. It's just that we're trying to teach kids at the same time and show them that there is a better way, better than what we even did, better than what our parents did. We're supposed to grow."

And not only do we need to listen to each other, Latifah says, we also need to hear what children have to say, especially since it's (usually) so unfiltered.

"At the end of the day, if you sit a kid down, and they tell you what they feel, that's the truth and you have to hear them on that," she says. "It's not about you trying to tell them what they feel and think. Kids will be honest because they haven't learned to lie like we have or to cover things up. So, I just think it's important to hear where they are coming from, and then also show them the way, so to speakā€”and then let them take over."

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