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How Ryan Reynolds Has Turned His Anxiety Into His Parenting Superpower

The beloved Deadpool and Proposal actor opens up about how parenting has eased his anxiety and enabled him to understand and connect with his kids on a new level.
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By Wyndi Kappes, Associate Editor
Published May 30, 2024
Ryan Reynolds attends Paramount's "If" New York premiere at SVA Theater on May 13, 2024 in New York City
Image: Mike Coppola | Getty Images

Anxiety is a common experience for many, and for Ryan Reynolds, it’s been a surprising ally in parenting his four children.

In a candid conversation with Hugh Jackman, Reynolds opened up about parenting with anxiety. “Oh mate, you’ve been pretty open with your anxiety struggles, which I really applaud you for,” Jackman remarked. “Do you find being a dad makes it better or worse?”

“I think it makes it better because your focus is less on yourself and more on your kids. I know you know that too,” he responded, with Jackman nodding in agreement. The actor and father of four – Betty, 4, Ines, 7, James, 9, and a one-year-old whose name has not been revealed – also noted how anxiety hasn’t just gotten better but also benefited his abilities to understand and support his children.

“Now I love that I have anxiety, I love that I’ve had anxiety,” he shared. “Because when I see my kids experiencing some of that—which is probably genetic—I know how to address it in a way that is compassionate, that actually allows them to feel seen. I know that I can’t just fix it. And I can communicate all that stuff to them and with them. I’m always grateful for it.”

Jackman also shared his evolving approach to discussing anxiety with his children, Oscar, 24, and Ava, 19. “I used to be a little bit old-school. I thought, ‘Don’t burden them if you are anxious,’” he admitted. “Say you’ve got an opening night, or you’re hosting the Oscars—for three weeks before, I go a little distant. And then someone said to me, ‘But your kids don’t know that you’ve got the Oscars. Maybe they’re thinking you’re mad with them [or] they’ve done something.’”

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He recounted a recent experience where he openly communicated his anxiety to his son. “I had to make an uncomfortable phone call yesterday, and I actually just said to my son, ‘I’ve got to make this uncomfortable phone call. I’m a bit nervous about it. If I seem a bit off, that’s why.’ And he goes, ‘Oh.’ And then he said, ‘How did the call go, Dad?’ I said, 'I feel so much better.’” Reynolds appreciated this approach, noting, “You are his hero and he feels a part of your world."

The Deadpool actor continued to emphasize how important it is to open up to your kids about not just your anxiety but your wins and losses. “I think Sean Levy actually told me something that stuck with me forever, its that people only talk about their wins but I think its really important for your kids in particular to know that you lose,” he shares.

“You don’t get what you want all the time; something you worked on really hard didn’t work; you said something embarrassing today; you did something that didn’t sit right with you. It’s so important that they see that and they don’t just hear about ‘Oh dad nailed it,’ because you lose so much more than you win.”

Reynolds’ and Jackman’s reflections highlight how acknowledging and discussing anxiety can foster deeper connections and understanding within families, transforming what is often seen as a challenge into a powerful tool for empathy and support.

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