The world of parenting is filled with wine memes and products with phrases like “mommy juice.” But for a sober parent like Dax Shepard and his wife Kristen Bell, drinking culture is not part of the equation.
The actors opened up to HuffPost about Shepard’s sobriety and how it affects their parenting while promoting Lightlife’s plant-based burger. The couple have two daughters, 4-year-old Delta Bell and 6-year-old Lincoln.
“We vacation almost exclusively with three other families who all have kids, and certainly at night, I’m super jealous of them because I’m like, fuck yeah I would love to drink something that turned down the volume of everyone in this house,” Shepard explained. “So I’m a little bit jealous in the evenings.”
There’s no jealousy in the mornings, however.
“At 6:45 when we’re all up, I’m like, Oh I’m crushing right now. I feel great. And they’re miserable. And those voices are three times as loud with a hangover,” he said, laughing. “So I just have to focus on when the win is, which is always the morning.”
Though Bell hasn’t sworn off alcohol, she said the parenting culture of drinking to unwind is simply not part of her daily life.
“The wine meme is a very funny thing. I suppose I take it as generalized ‘kids are stressful.’ I personally don’t have wine every day, but my wine is Netflix and cuddling with my husband or our date night,” said Bell, star of the “Good Place.”
“So, the wine memes, for me, they’re all-encompassing in the fact that they represent, ‘Remember that you’re an adult. It’s OK if your kids are stressful and annoying. It’s OK to take time for yourself,’” Bell added. “But to me, that doesn’t necessarily ever mean alcohol.”
Bell said neither she nor her husband feel pressure to drink when others do.
“The good thing is that my husband has done most of his sobriety work, and if you’re really doing the work, you hopefully one day, aren’t triggered by people drinking around you,” she explained. “Dax has never been triggered by people drinking around him. In fact, our friends are usually sensitive to it, and they look to me like, ‘Is it OK if I pour myself a drink?’ And Dax will notice and say, ’Oh no listen, I lost my privilege of drinking, but you didn’t lose your privilege. I think you should have a drink.′ So I’m very lucky there.”
The couple’s openness about difficult topics is something they try to bring to their parenting as well. They parodied the idea of “brutally honest parenting” in a funny video for their Lightlife campaign called “A Taste of Honesty.”
Though the video may be exaggerated, it has a basis in their real experience.
“My mother always told me everything,” said Shepard. “She trusted that I could understand if she explained it to me, and I think I felt respected by that. A trigger for me when I was young was being lied to. I didn’t like feeling lied to.”
When it comes to his own kids, Shepard said he tries to bring the same spirit of honesty.
“I’m really not afraid of most topics,” he continued. “Now there are a couple, like I don’t know if I need them to be ruminating on the collapse in the environment. Maybe they don’t need to know my political point of view. But I’m not afraid of death or sex. I don’t mind talking about that kind of stuff.”
Bell echoed this sentiment.
“We are very very honest in our household,” she said. “I think our parenting style that we agreed upon is things that are kept secretive oddly become shameful or scary. So we tell the truth about everything.
“And I know that’s alarming to some people, but our kids, as our test subjects, as our guinea pigs, are handling it quite well.”