February 29, 2012 02:00 PM

Michael Williams/Startraks

Reese Witherspoon may be accustomed to researching her on-screen characters, but there’s one role she admits to feeling unprepared for — being the mother of a teenager.

The Oscar winner, 35, tells Britain’s TV show Daybreak that she’s feeling apprehensive about her daughter Ava Elizabeth‘s upcoming 13th birthday, in September.

“I don’t know anything about teenagers, so I’m on a big learning curve here,” the This Means War star says.

“This is the time where I start asking all my friends who have kids who are older, ‘What do you do about a cell phone? What are your rules about the computer? Is she allowed to go out with friends or is she not?’ So I learn a lot from other mothers.”

Also growing up fast is Witherspoon’s son Deacon Reese, 8, her second child with ex-husband Ryan Phillippe.

“It’s great to have older children,” she says. “There’s a little sadness as they’re growing up and walking away from you, but it kind of changes the whole dynamic. We have really funny dinner conversations now, and they know more about certain topics than I ever, ever knew.”

For instance, when it comes to Ava, “I can’t keep up with her homework anymore,” explains Witherspoon. “My daughter will ask me something about famous composers, and I have no idea what she’s talking about. So that’s kind of nice. It’s like I’m learning from them.”

Having married agent Jim Toth nearly a year ago, Witherspoon hasn’t mentioned plans to have more children, but did say, “I like babies too. I hug all my girlfriends’ babies. They’re all so stinking cute!”

— Liz Raftery

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