"You get it right sometimes, and then you don't get it right," The Americans' Keri Russell tells PEOPLE of parenting with partner Matthew Rhys

By Mary S. Park
June 05, 2017 02:00 PM
Andrew Toth/Getty

Keri Russell is getting candid about how being a parent of three impacts her philanthropy.

“I just think you’re so much more vulnerable and kind of exposed emotionally, you can’t go to one of these events without sobbing,” The Americans star told PEOPLE Saturday during the 10th Annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic at Liberty State Park in New Jersey. “You’re just more vulnerable to it, which is good.”

The actress describes her hopes for her own children’s personalities with a laugh: “I’m just starting with, ‘Don’t be a jerk.’ “

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In May 2016, the 41-year-old welcomed a baby boy named Sam with her onscreen international-espionage partner and real-life partner in love, Matthew Rhys. She also has two other children: daughter Willa Lou, 5, and son River Russell, 10 on Friday, from a former relationship with carpenter Shane Deary.

Fortunately, the actress’s older kids never experienced the terrible twos, so she was able to concentrate on imparting other life lessons. “Mine were all nice at 2, but I feel like as they get older, [the lessons are] being a good friend, being a loyal friend and don’t talk about your friend.”

She explains, “It’s more like that kind of stuff: ‘If you start a team, you have to stay on it. You don’t get to quit just because they’re bad.’ “

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Given that her children are different ages and sexes, Russell personalizes her child rearing. “I think it’s just different [based on] the kid. You never know,” the Felicity alum shares. “You get what you get, and they’re all so different and wild and weird and good in their own way.”

She describes her relaxed attitude to PEOPLE as, “You do the best you can every single day, and some days are bad days. I feel like people need to remember that more.”

“You get it right sometimes, and then you don’t get it right,” Russell adds before joking about the parenting skills of herself and Rhys, 42, “We’re probably failing disastrously.”