No parent is perfect, of course, but if I could have one parent come to my home and give me a personal master class in how to raise a kid, it would be Kristen Bell. She’s been a mom for the same amount of time as I have and yet seems to be so much wiser about it! In the absence of said private lesson, we have her many enlightening interviews, including her latest for Self. Today’s class: Teaching kids about racism, sexism, and kindness.
“We talk very candidly about the problems people have faced in the world,” the actress and Hello Bello founder told Self. “All people, period.”
To do so, she and husband Dax Shepard got the help of Delta and Lincoln’s progressive preschool, which celebrates all world holidays and has invited guests such as labor activist Cesar Chavez’s granddaughter to talk to the children. But Bell also makes sure to talk about difficult issues with her kids herself, though she does simplify them so the girls will understand.
“I read a chapter called ‘Why White Parents Don’t Talk to Their Kids About Race’ in a book called NurtureShock, and it was a lesson in ‘don’t ignore things,'” Bell told the magazine. “Say, ‘Barack Obama was our first Black president. That’s crazy, right? Because we see people of different colors all the time.'”
Bell hopes her own upcoming children’s book, The World Needs More Purple People (out in June) will also teach her kids and others that there’s more that unites people than divides us.
The Good Place star extends these lessons into her daughters’ everyday lives as well, which is why even though we’re sure her house has more than two bedrooms, Lincoln and Delta are sharing theirs.
“I think their lives will be easier than most other people’s on the planet, and to develop a good character, it’s important to always be going through something,” she said. “I like the fact that they will have to figure out how to share a bedroom, figure out how to share your closet, figure out how to share your space. If that’s the worst thing about your life, that you have to share a bedroom with your sister, you’re going to be okay.”
This reminds me of what Bell told SheKnows last year of a slightly more hands-off method she has of teaching the girls about kindness.
“Anytime I see my child yell at another kid or treat them less than 100 percent, I feel so embarrassed,” she told us in October. “[E]very time I’ve intervened, I’ve regretted it, because I’ve robbed them of the experience of seeing the full impact of their actions. Feeling shame for hurting another person can be a powerful lesson, and when I step in, I stop that process. So I try to let those interactions play out from A to Z without my involvement.”
Just, wow. You’ll have to read the Self article for more on her kids’ bedtime routine (they have some very involved dialogues about dental hygiene). Personally, my parenting brain is full at the moment as I absorb Bell’s big ideas first.
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See which other celebrities have written children’s books lately.