There’s no easy way to talk to your kids about addiction — especially if you’re the one who’s suffering. But Ben Affleck, whose struggles with alcoholism and stints in rehab have played out in the media in recent years, doesn’t have much of a choice. He’s had to adapt in many ways to his new, sober life, and part of that has been adjusting how he looks at fatherhood. Affleck believes that his kids with ex Jennifer Garner will forgive him — that they want to forgive him. His only option is, to be honest about the past, and try to build a better future.
Affleck says the tools he learned for maintaining sobriety have helped him in his approach to being a good father. “A lot of the things that you learn in the process of dealing with addiction are good life lessons anyways,” he told People. “Be honest, take responsibility for your mistakes and help other people.”
.@BenAffleck plays a former basketball star who returns to his alma mater as the team's head coach in @TheWayBackMovie. 🏀 Watch an exclusive clip, and catch the movie in theaters March 6. pic.twitter.com/cHbz9c9dvf
— People (@people) February 27, 2020
That’s exactly how he approaches these difficult topics with his kids: “Kids, if you’re open and honest with them, can forgive failings and setbacks, and they want to love and respect you,” he said. “Kids are resilient. They appreciate the truth.
To that end, the Way Back star says he’s talked to his kids “pretty honestly about the tough times.” And he’s trying to pass on the lessons he’s learned in recovery too, that honesty matters above all else, and that it’s never wrong to ask for help.
“I try to be honest with them and say the most important thing is to be open and honest about how you’re feeling,” Affleck explained. “And when you’re not feeling good, to say this is difficult for me and to reach out to their parent and teachers.”
While Affleck maintains a hopeful view that his kids will be understanding, there’s another type of forgiveness that he has to work on too. “You have to be able to forgive yourself as parents and say I’m not always going to do this perfectly. I’m going to do my best. I’m going to try my hardest. Sometimes I’m going to say and do the wrong thing,” he said. “It’s important not to obsess and get into a bunch of negative thinking around relapses and setbacks because that isn’t helpful. What’s helpful is to stay positive and focus on the fact that I’m just the guy who’s doing good today.”
Affleck and Garner divorced in 2018, and share three kids: Violet, Seraphina, and Samuel. After a 2019 relapse with alcoholism, the actor has been laser-focused on recovery and rebuilding his family connections. He recently shot The Way Back, due out March 6, about an alcoholic high school basketball coach who shares many of his struggles.
“There is addiction and alcoholism and divorce and there’s problems that everyday people go through,” Affleck said of the movie. “But it’s also about the way we can overcome adversity and we can change and grow.”
Click here to see more celebrities who have struggled with drug or alcohol addiction.