Kristen Bell Talks Privilege, The Confusing School Year And Giving Kids Grace

The "Good Place" star opened up about how she's navigating 2020 with her family.
Reflecting on the challenges of virtual classes, Kristen Ball says that when she can't get the computer to log onto one of her children's classes, "I don’t beat myself up. I just take a breath, get us all a snack, and try again later.”
Reflecting on the challenges of virtual classes, Kristen Ball says that when she can't get the computer to log onto one of her children's classes, "I don’t beat myself up. I just take a breath, get us all a snack, and try again later.”

Like many parents, Kristen Bell admits to feeling deeply confused about the new school year.

“The only thing I can say with confidence is that I am not an IT expert. Everything else is a big question mark,” the “Good Place” star told HuffPost while promoting her partnership with Yoobi’s “Supply A Student” initiative.

“This time has been so confusing and I’ve found comfort in giving myself and my kids grace. Free passes to do it wrong,” she elaborated. “We’re all in this situation for the first time, so when I cannot get the computer to log onto their class, I don’t beat myself up. I just take a breath, get us all a snack, and try again later.”

Bell and her husband, Dax Shepard, have two daughters, 7-year-old Lincoln and 5-year-old Delta. She noted that she’s lucky to have resources and flexibility to ease the chaos and confusion of the 2020 school year.

“I realize I am doing it under the best conditions possible,” she said. “I am so fortunate to be available if my child has a question or wants to hug me during their ‘break.’ So many parents have to go to work and are having to choose whether to put food on the table or stay home and help their kids.”

The actor emphasized that she knows she is a “VERY privileged mom” and works to instill that understanding in her children.

“We do our best to be very transparent with our children and tell them we are more lucky than most people and that it’s our job as people on earth to help others,” Bell said. “We talk often of the importance of sharing ― not just of stuff but of time. And not just sharing with our family, but sharing with all people. It’s a constant conversation. From when they were very little we have put giving into practice and, for me, the best teaching tool is modeling. So seeing charitable actions is the best thing we can do for them.”

That’s part of why she was drawn to “Supply A Student,” which brings together the school supply brand, Yoobi, and the Kids In Need Foundation. The initiative aims to equip under-resourced students and teachers with the supplies they need this year. Bell invited her fans to nominate deserving teachers to receive Yoobi classroom packs for their school and encouraged them to buy supplies for students across the U.S.

“I think many of us had a baseline appreciation for teachers before the pandemic, but now people are seeing their true value,” the actor said, adding that educators deserve more appreciation than just social media memes. “They are emotional wizards, sacrificial heroes, their capacity for giving is endless and they provide stability so that parents can feel free to explore their own identities. They are so special. And yet they are consistently undervalued and underpaid ― so many are paying for their own school supplies.”

Bell said she hopes that this appreciation extends beyond the confusing pandemic school years.

“I think we all need to show up consistently and ask (teachers), ‘What do you need to teach our children? How can I make your life easier?’” she said. “Teachers have given us so much. It’s long overdue that we give back to them.”

In addition to showing what it means to give back, Bell also converses with her children about privilege in its many forms. One major topic they’ve been tackling is what it means to be white and issues of racism in the U.S.

“I think the big problem comes into play when people choose to avoid. So, we make sure to talk about why the protests are happening and the depth of injustice,” she said. “We talk about the problems but we also talk about the solutions. We make sure to include that part so they feel empowered to make better decisions than the generations before them. Also, we make sure to talk about the weight of our responsibility. If Black parents have to talk to their kids about what to do when they confront law enforcement, it’s incumbent on white parents to say, ‘If you see someone getting treated unfairly because of their race, you must speak up. Use your privilege for good. That’s your responsibility.’”

Bell said gratitude lists have helped her family find joy and appreciation in everyday moments.

“We’ve been doing three things we are grateful for at the table,” she said. “Often for me, it’s ‘I’m grateful the dog didn’t pee in the house.’”