Two years after his separation from ex-wife Jennifer Garner, Ben Affleck seems determined to turn over a new leaf — with his sobriety, his parenting, and everything else. Affleck freely admits his journey hasn’t been an easy one, and that even accepting he was an alcoholic took years and years of denial and mistakes. Now, he’s opening up about what it was like growing up with an alcoholic dad, and the intense pain of knowing exactly what his own kids are going through.
On Good Morning America, Affleck talked to Diane Sawyer about how he’s trying to make amends with his and Garner’s kids Violet, Seraphina, and Samuel. After trips to rehab in 2017 and 2018, and suffering a relapse in 2019, Affleck has slowed way down, cutting out all distractions and focusing on sobriety and family. For the Batman actor, finding a new normal is an ongoing battle — especially considering his own childhood home.
“[My dad] drank every day and that was just life,” he said bluntly. “And as that got worse, that was really really painful. But I always said: that will never be me, I will never do that…I wish he had been sober for those formative years. But what he’s taught me is how important it is for me to be sober now during those formative years for my kids.”
Even as a kid, Affleck understood that he wanted to model a different kind of family. Instead, he found himself slipping into the same patterns he watched growing up — and the disappointment of that broke his heart. “It meant I wasn’t who I thought I was,” he confessed. “And that was so painful and disappointing.”
“I really don’t want my children to pay for my sins, or to be afraid for me, which is one of the hard parts of being the child of an alcoholic,” he continued. “To think, what if my dad gets drunk? What if he does something stupid? What if he ends up on TMZ?” (Affleck’s relapse was captured on TMZ in 2019.)
He knows that he can’t undo the damage from his years of drinking, but he’s determined to make the most of his time now. “I took the last half of the year off and I just got to be dad,” he told Sawyer. “Drive them to school, pick them up, go to the swim meet…that’s where the parenting happens. It’s in the cracks, it’s in the moments where you’re just taking them back from soccer and they say something profound, or they talk about how they’re really feeling about something.”
“That’s where you get to be the parent. That’s the joy of it,” he added. “That’s what I don’t want to miss.”