Let Grow’s president, Lenore Skenazy, was on Dax Shepard’s podcast, Armchair Expert, recently. And we learned a lot of great things about his parenting style. He admits he’s the more laid-back parent between him and his actress spouse, Kristen Bell. But we think they both embody the Let Grow style of parenting quite well.
We learned about the way Dax and Kristen parent. And here are some of the awesome things we discovered. By the way, be sure to listen to the full episode between Dax and Lenore, wherever you listen to podcasts. Just look for Armchair Expert, episode 241.
He doesn’t want to set his kids up with unrealistic expectations.
Dax spoke to Lenore about how he tries to keep it real with his daughters. That means he's not always watching over them or doing what they want to do. He also deliberately refuses to act enthralled by their every activity because, “There’s no dude out there that’s ever going to stare at them knitting and be thrilled.” If he and Kristen high-fived every doodle, they’d be giving the kids unrealistic expectations of how much attention they should expect in a relationship. And that, he says, would be inaccurate.
Dax doesn’t laugh at his kids unless they are legitimately funny.
Speaking of unrealistic expectations, Dax also says he tries not to fake it with his kids. “I only have a few rules, and personally for me, I don’t laugh at my kids unless they were legitimately funny,” he says. “I think it’s because I’m a comedian. I don’t want to mislead them.” He assures listeners he’s not mean about it. He just wants them to earn it.
He’s not a fan of butt pads.
Lenore talked about high-tech baby socks containing monitors that measure, among other things, the kid's blood-oxygen levels. And Dax told her about his disagreement with Kristen about whether or not they should buy butt pads for their kids, who were learning to roller-skate. He said, “I was like, no, no, no. Your butt is a pad. We don’t need an auxiliary pad.”
He doesn’t love how everything has to become an organized activity.
Dax says he sees so many parents jump at the chance to sign their kids up for organized sports and activities. And in some cases, it’s too much. This happened with his own daughter, who loved kicking the soccer ball around in the driveway, but then didn’t love soccer. “Is it okay to just like the fucking thing and not get an expert involved and not achieve some strata of accomplishment and then accompany it with a trophy?” Lenore says yes, intrinsic motivation rocks! “The idea that something taught to a child by an expert is better than something that a kid just likes to do and practices and does is false.”
Dax thinks kids can figure it out.
When his girls think he is asleep or not watching, Dax witnesses them playing on their own and figuring things out without getting adults involved. “I watch them navigate situations over and over again that they would not do if I was present or my wife was present. By God, they work shit out,” he says. “I’d argue they get along a lot better when we’re not around. You’ll see them fall and get up, and there’s no crying because we’re not there.” Lenore reminded Dax of Let Grow’s motto: “When adults step back, kids step up.”
He thinks moms are doing a lot better than they give themselves credit for.
Lenore and Dax bonded over an interesting statistic. College-educated moms today spend nine more hours a week with their kids compared to moms in the 1970s. (You can learn more about the study behind this statistic here.) Dax shared that a female friend recently talked to him about feeling guilty for being a working mom. And he told her, “I guarantee you that you’re spending more time as a working mom with your child than any ‘50s housewife did. You’re probably doing much better than you think—this collective guilt and shaming is so toxic.” Lenore agrees. (And so do we!)
He has a great idea for American schools during and after COVID.
After asking Lenore about the Let Grow Project—where kids get the homework assignment, “Go home and do something on your own, without your parents”—Dax was sold. “Everyone should petition their school districts to implement the Let Grow policies." (Which, by the way, are free.)
Lenore agreed with that, too.