Kristen Bell: Jason Bateman told me to think of having kids like if my dogs could talk

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Kristen Bell was on a podcast called Motherly, which I’ve never heard of until now and am assuming is very popular since Bell and Tammy Duckworth have been on it. The host of the show, Liz Tenety, focused on the fact that Kristen plays Ana from Frozen, which is likely how most of the listeners will know her. Of course they talked about parenting and their kids, and Kristen had some interesting things to say. She loves those subjects. To be fair to her, she has done a lot of work around parenting and you can tell she tries and cares. She’s also dead honest about these topics to the point where she overshares, but we’ve known this about her. Here’s some of what she said on the podcast, which you can listen to here.

On not being sure she wanted to have kids
[Dax and I] had a genuine conversation about whether or not we wanted kids and I was the hesitant one. ‘We love over lives, we like traveling. Is this what we want? I get so much fulfillment out of my dogs.’

When I was pregnant I was as connected with the baby in my belly as that water bottle. I was like ‘I don’t know you, I don’t know what you are. You give me gas.’ But all the cliches are true, you just know what to do when it comes out.

Jason Bateman told her during their movie Couples Retreat in 2009 what having kids was like
He said ‘you love your dogs, right? Imagine if one of your dogs stood on its hind legs and said I love you. That’s what it’s like.’

On how her marriage changed after having kids
Very transactionally. We read a book called Brain Rules for Baby. When we read this book it talked about how 75% of marriages can go downhill after having a baby because of the stress. It gave you five different tips to look for like sleep deprivation, isolation, uneven workload. Uneven workload was the first transaction. We said ‘ok, you do 50% I do 50%.’ We shook hands on it. He did 50% of the diapers. I don’t buy that you get to come home at the end of a long day never having seen your kids and make the rules. That’s baloney and 1950 is over. It needs to be an even workload. You keep an eye on it by making a list.

On if they have a parenting mission statement
My personal one is you just do the next right thing. His would probably have to do with his sobriety. He talks a lot about the only person you need to compare yourself to is yourself yesterday. The most annoying part about my husband is that he’s usually right.

How they play make up in front of their kids.
[After we fight in front of the kids] we say, privately, ‘I’m sorry I snapped at you I had a really tough day. They don’t ever see that. The next day they just assume the problem went away. [Dax] said, ‘let’s make a deal. If we ever make up when we’re behind closed doors that we role play the next morning.’

Every time we’re testy with each other we just say ‘good morning daddy. I just wanted to say last night I had a really long day and I’m sorry that I snapped at you.’ He would say ‘yeah, you’re right mommy. I had a hard day too and I’m really sorry.’ Then we physically kiss and hug.

[From The Motherly Podcast via Buzzfeed]

That was fifteen minutes of a forty five minute podcast. I skimmed through the rest and she talked about giving her kids the sex talk and telling them how everything works physiologically vs. letting them believe in magic and fairy tales like other parents do. (Her daughters are six and five.) She talked about the message of Frozen 2, that familial love comes before romantic love. They also discussed how hard it must be to deal with the loss of a child. She was promoting her babycare line, Hello Bello, which is celebrating their one year anniversary. They have more products coming out for older kids and are giving out a week worth of free diapers to new parents. Plus Kristen has a kids’ book coming out in June to celebrate people’s similarities. It’s going to be called The World Needs More Purple People.

As for thinking of kids like dogs that can talk, I guess that’s a way to explain the feeling to dog owners. It sounds ridiculous on one hand but it also makes total sense to me. The last time Kristen talked about having fights with Dax was on Justin Long’s podcast where she admitted that she and Dax once didn’t talk to each other for three days after a fight. They made up when Kristen asked about bringing a new dog home. I wonder if that was before or after she made the pact with Dax to make up in front of their kids.

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12 Responses to “Kristen Bell: Jason Bateman told me to think of having kids like if my dogs could talk”

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  1. Astrid says:

    I’m a cat person as opposed to a dog person but I totally get the analogy. If you’re beloved pet stands up and says “I love you”, that’s what parenting feels like. Not that little kids ever say I love you but the sentiment is there when they gaze at your face or take your finger in their hand.

  2. Erinn says:

    It’s one of those things that SOUNDS ridiculous, but it does weirdly make sense to me as someone with two cats and a dog and no children. I have literally found myself lecturing them about getting along. “No. We don’t bite. Yes. Cuddling is nice, Cricket, biting is bad!” is something I said to the cats last night because they were in that weird “I sort of like you, but I sort of want to fight with you” kind of stage and driving everyone nuts last night. And when you’re a big animal person, you really start to see their individual personalities. One of them will eat anything in sight. Another one is a picky eater. The dog doesn’t like to eat if you’re not nearby.

    It’s just a lot of accommodating and trying to make sure everyone is getting along and has their needs met. And there’s a different song and dance for each of them, and it’s all ridiculous, and you know other people would think it’s ridiculous, and you can’t believe you’ve become one of ‘those people’ who end up having to bribe their pets to just get along for a few minutes. And if you have an ill pet that requires daily medication to survive, you see it even more.

    And I suspect that’s a major theme for people with kids. I get to leave the furry little tyrants home alone, unsupervised, and I don’t have to take them to school or something where all my bad ‘parenting’ habits are on display for the world, so it’s absolutely not the same. But there are totally similarities, just at a much lower level.

    I also think it’s probably smart that they’re doing a follow up on apologies and stuff in front of the kids. It shows that you can and should talk about whatever you had the disagreement about, and that you care about how the other person feels more than just ‘winning’ the spat. It shows that BOTH parents are interested in making sure their partner feels supported, and it makes sure that both sides have a chance to see the other person’s point of view. I think that’s incredibly healthy, and I’m glad they’re doing that. I personally didn’t see a lot of that growing up, and I know it’s passed on to some degree the way I deal with arguments with my husband. But that’s something that I’ve actively identified that is a cycle I don’t want to keep going, and I’ve been making the effort to really calmly have a ‘wrap up’ kind of thing after a disagreement. And it truly does make a difference for EVERYONE’S mental health and feelings.

    • Nicole says:

      I was about to comment that the only difference is that kids talk. But that’s not entirely true, dogs can verbalize their feelings. My yellow lab will always grunt when she’s unhappy with you or what you want her to do. She’s a bit of a diva. My black lab always sighs loudly when she’s bored and wants to go outside. She’ll collapse on the floor like a pouty kid.

      • Erinn says:

        Our pointer always manages to grunt, snuffle, huff, pout and be super dramatic too haha. I get a lot of annoyed sighs. She’s a real snorer too when she’s super tired. She does this thing I call the ‘pointer pout’ where she’ll tuck her upper lip in a bit at the front and sides and stick her bottom lip out more – it’s SUCH a sassy face haha.

  3. Sean says:

    When it comes to Kristen Bell and Dax Shepherd, I can’t tell if their drama is manufactured so they can have something to talk about (and promote their brand) or if they shouldn’t be together but refuse to admit it.

  4. Miss Gloss says:

    That isn’t even close to what it’s like. So annoying.

    • Jess says:

      You must not be a true animal lover. Having kids is a lot like having an animal, you feed and water them, clean up their shit and teach them how to properly use the bathroom, teach them general manners and how to behave in public, and love them with everything you have. It’s pretty similar if you ask me!

    • knotslaning says:

      Really? I have two kids and a dog, and I can definitely compare having a dog to having a toddler. He acts just like a toddler, we treat him like a toddler but we can leave him at home alone! My kids call him their little brother too.

      • AMA1977 says:

        I’m a human mom and a dog mom and I agree that there are lots of similarities. We got a puppy when we got engaged, and it was very instructive to have him to “practice” on before we had children. I got to see a little bit of my husband’s “parenting” style and we had some really productive conversations about how we wanted to raise our someday-kids.

        Pets are dependent on you for everything, like kids. Your reactions and decisions shape their behavior. Like Erinn said above, they’ve all got their own personalities, and you meet them where they are to get the results you want. It is nice to be able to make sure the water dish is full and the dog’s been out and then leave, which is frowned upon with little kids, (lol!) but there are lots of similarities between parenting and pet ownership.

  5. Moco says:

    Someone told us having kids is like having dogs that slowly learn how to talk. But you can leave the dogs home alone.

  6. lascivious chicken says:

    I have birds that talk and say “I love you”, so I’m all set.

  7. StrawberryBlonde says:

    We absolutely loved our dog and cat. I have always been a pet person. So has my husband. I grew up with cats, he grew up with dogs. I had a dog of my own that died 3 years before I met my husband. I lived with vet students in school and we had a menagerie of pets. Our son is 12 months old and he loved our dog and cat (both unfortunately passed in the last year). We plan to get another dog and cat when he is 5-7 years old. There are many similarities between babies and a dog or cat! Although we did find that our love for our son is so much greater than we ever anticipated, and in fact, much greater than the (deep) love we feel/felt for our pets.