Jennifer Garner’s Mom Made Only $1 a Day – But She Was Determined to Change Her Family’s Fate

Inspiring Stories

Growing up, Jennifer Garner’s mom didn’t have much. Patricia Ann Garner’s family lived on an old farm and she earned only a dollar a day babysitting. Despite her mom’s financial struggles, Garner says the woman was determined to change her fate with hard work and resilience.

A Rough Start

Jennifer Garner and Patricia Ann Garner


Jennifer Garner was born in Houston, Texas, in 1972 and grew up in West Virginia. She was the middle of three daughters, and her family was a happy one. She recalls taking violin in school (and being so bad at it that her mom offered to pay her to never play again), studying ballet for nine years, and majoring in chemistry at Denison University before switching majors.

Little did she know that her decision to pursue the arts would one day come full circle for her mother.

Patricia grew up in Oklahoma on a 20-acre farm that her parents bought. The house was a two-room house with no electricity, running water, or indoor plumbing, and in 1936, it sold for a cool $700.

“As a farm girl growing up on a tiny farm in Locust Grove, OK, my mother earned $1.00 a day for babysitting her neighbor’s five children,” Garner shared on Instagram. “My mom’s family was poor— I’m sure she cherished that money — but it was the neighbor’s old LIFE magazines that really shaped Mom’s future.”

Forging a New Path

Eventually, Patricia knew she had to leave the farm to pursue a better life. So, as the farm changed hands between her uncles following her father’s death, she set out into the world. She met her husband, a chemical engineer named William John Garner, and became a teacher. They had three kids together and showered them with love.

After Garner became famous through roles like Alias and 13 Going On 30, she began telling the story of how her mother came from humble roots and put together a beautiful life for her and her sisters. She also realized a lifelong goal, of traveling to all 50 states and visiting all seven continents.

“I think my mom was so poor, it’s just unbelievable that she managed to leave,” Garner said in a 2020 interview. “When I moved to New York after college, my mom said, ‘Jennifer, no matter what you do, it will never be as big of a deal as it was for me to leave that farm.'”

Embracing Their Roots

Despite her rough upbringing, Patricia never wanted to keep it quiet. In that same 2020 interview, Garner explained how she and her mom had discussed Garner’s openness about it. According to Garner, her mom is good with it.

“She said, ‘I’m never ashamed of growing up poor,'” Garner recalled. “Rather, I am amazed by the grace and dignity that my parents had throughout my childhood.’”

Garner is embracing those roots, too. In 2017, she purchased the farm where her mother grew up from her uncle. They agreed that her aunt and uncle would live there and maintain the property, which now boasts an additional 35 acres.

The farm produces pumpkins, blueberries, field peas, and rye to help the soil, reports The Oklahoman. Some of that produce is used for Garner’s baby food company, Once Upon a Farm.

“I definitely am another generation removed from what my mom gave us and certainly from what she had,” Garner, now a mother of three, said in 2015. “But I hope that my mothering has been so infused by Pat Garner that there’s a germ of it in there.”

An Eye on the Future

This inspiring story is even more so because we know how it turned out for Garner and her family. But Patricia’s experience also teaches an important lesson: never give up. Sometimes, life deals you what feels like an impossible hand, and it can be hard to push through.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a brighter future or that things won’t improve. Sometimes, a dream and the will to make it happen are all you need. Rather than giving up, look for opportunities, take calculated risks, and know when it’s time to move on.

After all, if a woman who once made a dollar a day could do it, so can you.

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