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Jennifer Garner bites her tongue when it comes to these parenting phrases

Jennifer Garner red carpet on green background - Jennifer Garner parenting phrases
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As parents, we all have those sayings that we never planned on uttering, particularly ones that our parents said to us when we were kids—like “Because I said so,” for example. While not as cliché, Jennifer Garner shared in an exclusive interview with PEOPLE that there are a few select phrases she tries not to say to her teen children that are specific to their ages and development.

Garner shares three children with her ex, Ben Affleck—Violet, 18, Seraphina, 15, and Samuel, 12. She told the publication that she’s truly loving these ages they’re in and that they’re “giving her the most joy.”

“They’re really solid right now,” she said.

“I’m just watching them in this new phase of life where they’re figuring out who they’re going to be and what they’re going to study,” Garner told PEOPLE. “And I’m so interested in them. All the time, I’m interested in everything about them.”

Garner said one of the hardest things when it comes to parenting teens is letting them make their own decisions and their own mistakes—and most parents of teens would agree with her. Garner said she has to “sit on her hands” and not say two particular phrases to her teens.

I have a really hard time not saying, ‘This is what I see you as,’ and ‘I think you should,’” she told the outlet.

Garner said her parents did the same for her and she was “so amazed by that.”

In fact, her oldest child Violet is taking charge of her own college process, according to Garner, and she’s letting her take ownership of this stressful—and so important—time of a young adult’s life.

“It is exciting,” Garner told PEOPLE. “I can see the stress—even though the excitement and stress go hand in hand. But she’s handling it like a champ and she’s totally in charge.”

She continued, “I’m not having to say, ‘Are you doing this, are you doing this?’ She’s a self-starter. And I’m just proud of her no matter what.”