Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell are notoriously private about their family, only sharing pictures of daughters Licoln, 6, and Delta, 5, with their faces hidden or obscured. But, in other ways, the duo are very open about parenthood. Like with most things, Shepard approaches fatherhood with equal parts enthusiasm, honesty, and humor. He also is gracious enough to share it, humor and all, with us. So, in honor of the actor’s 46th birthday, we’re sharing with you nine times Shepard did the dad thing right. We can all take notes.
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Thank you @kristenanniebell . Thank you, thank you, thank you. You are the most wonderful Mom, and I will be forever grateful to you for creating our love bugs. All of their best ingredients are from you. You are the softest, safest place for all three of us to hide. I love you. Happy Mother's Day ♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️
Calling out how low the bar is for dads.
Moms of the world, get ready to nod emphatically. In an interview published on Medium, Shepard spoke about an omnipresent double standard: Why are women so often asked about how they balance work and children, while men rarely are? “As innocuous as the question sounds, you start noticing that I’ve never been asked on a red carpet how I’m juggling fatherhood and three jobs,” Shepard said. He added that the subtext here is that women must be bad or struggle if they prioritize work, whereas men are given a pass.
He also called for the bar for dads to be raised, pointing to the way men are often portrayed in media. “[T]hey’re incompetent and bumbling and all that stuff. It’s comedic,” he said. “I like funny stuff, but it is sending a subliminal message that the bar is really low. You show up at two soccer games? You’re golden for the year.” In other words, no rounds of applause for changing diapers, dads of the world.
Committing to honesty as the best policy.
“We don’t do any white lying, for better or worse. If they want the truth, they get the truth,” Shepard told People back in March. In other words, when his daughters sniffed out the truth about Santa Claus, they got the whole truth and nothing but the truth. While some might see all that truth-telling as harsh, Shepard and Bell’s honest parenting method isn’t as tough-love as it might seem. In fact, the way Shepard talks about it, it’s really a way to honor their kids’ minds and ideas.
“I’m seeing the best part of her brain at work, which is calling bullshit on things that can’t happen,” he says about watching Lincoln suss out the truth about the man in the red suit. And both Shepard and Bell are willing to laugh when their honesty doesn’t totally yield the life-changing learning moments they might have expected; apparently, after asking about where babies come from, Lincoln only sat through part of the talk before running outside to play.
Talking about his daughters being horny.
Ever the realist, Shepard is willing to talk about what being sex-positive and a father means for his own children. On his podcast, Armchair Expert, he talked with guest and friend Gwyneth Paltrow about what being sex-positive means to him.
“It’s funny because I tell myself I have a narrative I’m spinning about how I’m going to be as a father of two daughters. Currently, I’m of the opinion, I’m super pro-sex. I am anti-having sex to get approval. I am anti-having sex to get someone to like you or to gain status in a social circle but if my daughters are horny and they have decided they want to have sex, I am very pro-sex.”
Considering 2019 was also the year we heard about T.I. subjecting his daughter to a virginity test, Shepard’s stance is refreshing.
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Going on a LEGO rescue mission.
Thank god for Instagram stories. Because of it, we got to witness one of the most daring rescue missions of our time. It started with the family of four watching a wedding happening while on vacation at a resort.
Shepard was beautifully on the power of witnessing such an event. Bell wrote on Instagram that he was “whispering beautiful things in my ear like, ‘Weddings are so moving. Wouldn’t the world be a bit more peaceful if enemies had to watch each other get married?’” But then the unthinkable happened: Delta dropped a Frozen figurine’s Lego head.
The wedding guests then witnessed Shepard using some improvised rescue devices, including a lunch box and an umbrella, to get Anna’s head from the bushes. Despite the apparent interruption to the festivities, the guests watched with enthusiasm and even cheered when the small plastic head was regained.
“This wedding will have great fortune!” Shepard said after the successful rescue. Talk about a wedding story that the happy couple will enjoy telling for years, and an example of the sometimes comical lengths a father will go to to keep his kids happy.
Catering to his daughters’ Halloween demands — but not their butt cheek pranks.
When SheKnows spoke to Shepard and Bell back in October, we learned of their prankster daughters’ plans to…um…glue their dad’s butt cheeks together. While we don’t have any word on the fate of Shepard’s backside since then, another question we asked during the interview did eventually get answered via social media. When asked what their costume was going to be, Bell was still non-committal only a few days before Halloween, saying that plans in the past have totally fallen apart once Delta, their youngest, insists she would rather be a pumpkin and demands Dax join in as well. The doting dad, of course, plays along, but this year we did find out via Instagram that he avoided his pumpkin fate and was Santa Claus as part of a Christmas family costume.
Holding it together during a lesson on the middle finger.
Sometimes, kids come to parents and parents can react with the gravity the situation deserves, like when a pet dies or they ask about Santa. Other times, it can be hard to keep it together. Thankfully, Bell was on hand to capture Shepard doing a great job of keeping it together as one of their daughters talked to him about a classmate who uses the middle finger a lot.
“I have been waiting on this moment since the day I got pregnant,” Bell wrote in her Instagram story, later explaining she was having a hard time not laughing — as Shepard reacts with complete earnestness to his daughters’ story.
As it turns out, the offending child also says “fuck,” which gives Shepard an opening to talk more about choices in words and gestures.
“Yeah, that’s not a nice word. You know, that’s a naughty finger and I never see you do that,” Shepard can be heard saying in the video. “It makes me so proud that you know that, yet you don’t do it.” We hope that he and Bell were able to finally laugh about it after the kids went to bed later that night.
Being realistic about the future.
So many celebrities often insist that they don’t want their kids to follow them into their industry. Then again, it’s also pretty common to see kids want to follow in their parent’s showbiz footsteps. Shepard, apparently, has no anxiety about that potentially happening, and his reason is refreshing.
“A lot of parents seem hesitant about that, and I can’t fully understand why — because I’ve had a lot of ‘real’ jobs,” he told SheKnows in 2017. “By my estimation, this is a very nice job.”
While there are lots of unglamorous parts of being a successful actor, it’s nice to know that he keeps things in perspective and isn’t pulling a “do what I say, not what I do” with his career. But he also added that he isn’t exactly rushing to put his kids in auditions or acting classes, either. He continued that he wants his daughters to have real-life experience, and even have a job or two they hate, before deciding to go into acting if they so choose.
Revealing the glory of small punishments.
Even the kids of super parents like Shepard and Bell act up. When talking with Fatherly about who is the bigger parental disciplinarian (he is), Shepard also shared his trick for getting kids to listen.
“I try to make it something immediate,” he told Fatherly about the consequences he devises. “You’re not going to take away TV for five days. Saying that you will has no impact.” Instead, he tries to make the consequences “smaller and more immediate,” which also has the benefit of making them easy to enforce.
“You want to have this mini-war or a gnarly three days?” he said about his preferred method of discipline. One reason he’s able to be the enforcer, even for small things, has to do with how he reacts when his kids get mad.
“I don’t mind if they’re mad at me. I know they’ll feel differently in three hours,” he explained. “It does impact Kristen more. That’s the best part of her. She is endlessly nurturing and endlessly available.”
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I was raised by an amazing, compassionate woman (@llaboshows). I was gifted a beautiful, loyal, strong sister (Carly) when I was six. I married a powerful, nurturing woman (@kristenanniebell) at 38. At 43 I'm partnered with a brilliant, harworking woman (@mlpadman). Nearly everything good about me was instilled by a woman. I have been absolutely spoiled in this department. And it's just getting started. I now get to watch my two most lovable dingleberries grow into women themselves ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ happy #internationalwomensday
Having the best comeback for not being one of those parents.
Bell and Shepard have talked in the past about how they didn’t take a typical approach to their partnership. He was initially against a formal commitment, and Bell ultimately decided she trusted him enough to not need one. When they did get married, it was a $142 courthouse wedding. It’s not surprising that Bell then also had some hesitations about becoming a parent.
“Before we had kids, I’d say to Dax, ‘I don’t want to be like those people.’ I saw a few parents I didn’t envy and was terrified I’d become crotchety and close-minded like them. And he said, ‘Those people had bad personalities before they had kids.’ Which is maybe the best point ever made. I was like, ‘You’re right! And we’re fun, so let’s stay fun,’” she told Natural Health about his very convincing argument back in 2015.