Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard Reveal Skill Daughters Have That Make Them Feel Successful as Parents
Cindy Ord/Getty Images Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell
Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard are spreading the word about what's up in parenting.
In a recent chat with PEOPLE about Hello Bello's first ever State of Parenthood report — a family goods company the two co-founded to bring better parenting experiences to all — the couple opened up about raising their two daughters, Delta, 8, and Lincoln, 9½.
Community is a major aspect for the family of four and families around the country, with 79 percent of parents who participated in the survey reporting that they are at least partially involved in a parenting community.
For the Armchair Expert host, 48, and the Frozen star, 42, leaning into community and giving back are important not just for themselves, but to model for their kids.
"I've called friends or mom friends that I've had in moments of stress, just to come over and diffuse the energy in the house. It could be as simple as that," Bell tells PEOPLE.
Shepard has found that dads in their circle are reaching out more as well, with the report findings noting dads are less likely to engage in a community than moms, though the gap is closing.
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kristenanniebell/Instagram Kristen Bell, Dax Shepard, and kids
"I get a lot of calls from dads when their wives are out of town Like,' I have both kids for five days. I need to come over for three of those days completely,'" he says with a laugh. "So, yeah, when the wives are traveling, we seem to have the dads here."
The Good Place actress went on to explain it's important for them to have their kids witness the give and take. "I include the girls in things like that, when I'm interacting with the community and local things," she says.
"For example, we just lost P-22 the mountain lion that lives in this area of L.A. and they're doing a live stream of a funeral," Bell continues. "So I told the girls about it, and I think they want to watch it. I know that it may seem silly, but I think it simply reminds them that they're a part of a bigger group."
It's also important for all the parents involved, Shepard says. "It's so brutal doing it on your own. In quarantine, when we got to a point where we were inside and scared for everyone's safety, without the outside vibe shifters, it could be pretty oppressive."
"It makes it so much more fun and easy when we get a few families together and the kids, can kind of entertain themselves and adults can recharge on some adult conversation," he continues. "It's so crucial."
The couple also notes that a community of supportive people can help deliver a "reality check" in moments of parental panic.
"That's really what we're striving to be," Bell shares.
"And I also think you benefit from seeing that everyone's wrestling with something," the podcast host points out. "No one's got a turnkey, easy experience. Everyone's got these little tiny challenges, some have bigger ones. And I think it's just comforting to know that the struggle's kind of universal. You might be looking at your friends and thinking they are fantastic parents and not extending yourself the same grace."
RELATED: Kristen Bell Says 'Nothing Makes Me Happier' Than Seeing Her Daughters as Citizens of the World
Bell and Shepard are enjoying the shift in their kids' interests as they grow, noting they are starting to share more hobbies — a technique many parents are relying on to continue exploring their own interests — and recently taught their younger daughter how to play spades.
"This is opened up an entirely new world for us because if given the chance Kristen and I would place spades eight hours a day," Shepard explains.
Bell also notes that she enjoys drawing with the girls, sharing, "Very often when we are by ourselves with nothing to do, we'll all grab a pen and paper and draw something we see in the room."
Solo time with Shepard and the girls is "motorcycle time," "because they both ride dirt bikes."
"That's what we've been itching for, to get them to play with us," Bell notes, with Shepard pointing out that they take the same approach with music played in their home.
"Rightly or wrongly, we never played children's music for the kids. We were like, absolutely not. You're gonna know Motown, you're gonna like Hall and Oates," he says.
Bell adds, "We're trying to get them to join our party."
The mom of two notes she's enjoying the "comedic surprises" that her girls deliver.
"It's like living in a Jim Carrey movie," she laughs. "Yesterday, I had to say out loud, 'Could you please stop using my toothbrush to wash your legs?' I said that. I never thought I would utter that sentence, but here we are."
"The fact that I know that there are other people out there who know why I had to say that and why I was a completely legitimate sentence. I don't know, it makes me feel a little bit more at peace."
Shepard notes that he's enjoying how the girls are "increasingly not parroting what they heard."
"They're creating novel ideas and thoughts. And so there's two more interesting people in the house that are computing the world differently than us and they can communicate it now. And it's really fun just to have more perspectives around. They're becoming more like bros for me."
In addition to their changing family dynamic, the couple also loves seeing the individual relationships between each other and their girls grow.
"Kristen has this telepathic relationship with our oldest daughter, who coincidentally is very similar to me," Shepard says. "Watching our oldest daughter have a parent that has endless patience and the capacity to connect with and comfort and guide just makes me so grateful all the time."
Kristen Bell Instagram
"I'll regularly be laying — our girls share a room, so I'll be laying with the little one and Kristen's laying with the older one. And I'm just listening to this connection they have and seeing that my daughter has an angel in her life, she has someone who fully understands every molecule of her," he continues. "She's so seen by Kristen and I'm just so grateful that she has that."
Noting that Shepard's bond with their youngest is similar, Bell applauds his ability to "diffuse any situation.
"The two girls and I can get into a tet-a-tet, and Dax seamlessly integrates into the conversation and gets us off the power struggle topic and into a joke or a story," she says, a quality the actor jokes is a result of "middle child training."
"You have a pretty endless amount of patience for all of us," Bell points out to Shepard. "To let our girls go through what they're going through their processing and simply bear witness to it, I think it's incredibly important."
"Because when we try to snap them out of it too quickly, we're depriving them of the right lesson. He's incredibly patient and knows exactly the right moment because he has great comedic timing, and that level of math is astounding to me."
Speaking about the outcomes of parenting that many strive for and work toward, the couple revealed what parenting success looks like in their household.
"It's always the exact, same thing. It's never any kind of academic achievement. It's not learning to ride a bike. It's always when they've had some tantrums, they go way to their room for 15, 20 minutes, and then they come downstairs, and they acknowledge what fear it was that made them upset, and then they apologize," Shepard says.
"And Kristen and I both look at each other and go, oh my god, that took me 40 years to learn how to do and that is the number one thing we're proud of, when we witness it."
"That very much comes from Dax's example. His study of making amends for sobriety survival has had an effect on the whole family," Bell notes. "And when he says they get into a tantrum and then go to their room, that room time is voluntary. They know that regulating their body is the first thing they have to do and there's no getting out of that and they always come to the conclusion to come downstairs and at least attempt to say their most vulnerable fear."
With their oldest turning 10 this year, the couple has noticed the tides of parenting shifting from their own experiences.
"What I like is that every time a new parenting technique comes out that someone believes in, there's a book written about it, it gets publicized. That allows every parent to absorb that technique and decide if it's right for them," Bell notes.
"Because if there's one thing, and there is only one thing that I'm positive about as a parent, it's that each child is different. Our two girls have required completely different styles of parenting, and the minute we clicked into how to handle them, individually things got easier. So based on all the new parenting styles that come out, I'm able to use what I want and leave what I don't, which only makes my toolbox as a parent bigger."
Shepard and Bell hope the findings of the State of Parenthood report prove "unifying" amid what can be a "kind of isolating experience."
"I think starting with some data seems like a really fun idea to really see what percentage of parents are feeling what way about these certain topics. We wanted everyone else to have a place to check in and make sure that they don't feel alone or bizarre about how they're feeling," says Shepard.
Adding, "I also think we were surprised to find out that it's pretty darn optimistic in light of a pretty wild last couple of years to see how generally optimistic everyone is and how everyone still is getting through the profound experience of parenthood."