Kristen Bell Exclusive: How I Talk to My Kids About Race
The actress and mom of two daughters shared her thoughts on raising global citizens and her approach to talking to her kids about differences.
If we can't all be literal Disney princess and activist philanthropist Kristen Bell, at least we can steal some of her life philosophies. The actress and mom of two daughters —Lincoln, almost 4, and Delta, 2—shared some tips she and husband Dax Shepard use when it comes to raising responsible little ones. Bell, a former guest editor of Parents, sat down with current editor-in-chief Liz Vacciarello to talk parenting.
Bell was clear in saying she's no professional kid expert and even balks at the idea that she's much of a reader: "I've read like three parenting books—no, I've read four—but I've loved all of them and I take in as much information as I can."
"The Good Place" actress says she picks and chooses bits from each book or article that feel right for her and her family. "I think everybody should [do the same]. Because every kid is different and every mom's instincts are different and everybody's beliefs are different," she said.
Bell also explained that talking about what makes people different plays a big role in her and Shepard's quest to raise their daughters as global citizens: "You've got to talk about it. Talk about the differences. Do not ignore it."
And when it comes to talking about race, Bell and Shepard try to spell things out clearly for their daughters instead of subtly implying acceptance.
"You think, 'Oh they're going to see that I have a black friend and they'll know it's okay.' That's not the way humans work," she said.
Evolutionarily, identifying someone as "The Other" is meant to protect you, Bell explained. "Kids will notice differences. So we talk to them about it."
Bell said she teaches her daughters about diversity by celebrating the differences between her and her friends. "Our best friend is Indian and we're always like, 'Isn't this cool? The difference between Mommy's skin and Monica's skin? They're different colors. Did you know everybody is a different color?'"
"You talk to them about it so the idea of 'the other' is never left alone in their brain," Bell explains. "Differences are also important, cultures are important, and it's important to acknowledge those because if you ignore them, your kids are seeing them, [and] they're coming to their own conclusions. The topic needs to be open."