Ben Affleck: ‘It’s important to have two parents for the rearing… of a child’


Ben Affleck probably won’t get much awards-season attention for The Last Duel, but he clearly has high hopes for The Tender Bar. It’s a sentimental movie directed by George Clooney, and Ben is playing a charismatic, working-class bartender uncle to the main character. I would think that if the reviews hold up, Ben is definitely looking at some Best Supporting Actor nominations. Ben covers WSJ. Magazine to talk about the movie, but a lot of the interview was about his own addiction issues and what he’s learned through suffering. Ben has relapsed several times in two decades, and he’s learned a lot through the processes of f–king up, succumbing, and then rebuilding. Some quotes from the piece:

On his most painful moments: “There’s a lot that I would want my younger self to understand. Some things, honestly, that I’m too self-conscious of or shy about to be really candid about with the whole world because they’re mostly mistakes. Things I wish I had done differently, and they’re rooted in that instinct to look at my past and think, I wish I could have avoided this painful event.’ I wish I could have not caused someone else pain. I wish I had understood better the nature of what was difficult about life for me. I wish I did not have to learn some lessons the hard way. But maybe this is just rationalizing because the alternative is too painful.”

On enlightenment: Affleck said he learned one cannot get to true enlightenment “the easy way” and that he “had to learn those things in an authentic, meaningful way to really learn the lessons that I’ve really internalized, that have created the values that I have now even though most of them were born of failure.”

The cure for alcoholism: “The only real cure for alcoholism is suffering. You just hope that your threshold for suffering is met somewhere before it destroys your life. I used to be irritated by people who would say, ‘Oh, I have these problems and I’m grateful for them.’ I used to think, ‘This is bulls—. You’re not grateful for disasters, creating pain and wreckage in your life. Say you feel s—– about it and you wish you were better!’ Only within the last five years, I really felt increasingly grateful for the difficulties that I’ve had… It’s not insignificant, because a lot of that pain is rooted in pain caused to other people. And that turns out to be the most painful thing in life.”

On second chances: He is “very lucky” to have “benefited from second chances. Life is difficult, and we are always failing and hopefully learning from those failures. The one thing you really need to avail yourself of the opportunities provided from that growth is the second chance. I’ve definitely tried to take advantage of that. I haven’t always been successful, but in cases in which I have, they’ve turned out to be the defining aspects of my life. I feel great about being very healthy.”

On his relationship with Jennifer Lopez: “I can say that it’s definitely beautiful to me. And, you know, one of the things I really value across all facets of my life now is that it was handled in a way that reflected that. It’s a good story. It’s a great story. And, you know, maybe one day I’ll tell it. I’ll write it all out … and then I’ll light it on fire.”

His life now: “[My life now reflects] not just the person that I want to be, but the person that I really feel like I am. Which is not perfect, but somebody who tries very hard and cares very much about being honest and authentic and accountable. It’s hard to say who benefits more, without going into gossipy detail.”

He believes in raising kids with two parents: “It’s important to have two parents for the rearing and upbringing of a child. The most important thing to me is to be a good father. Boys need to be taught. How to behave, how to conduct yourself. What your values should be. The ways my father did that for me are really meaningful — as are the ways in which he was absent. You need a father for positive reinforcement. I got that from my father — and missed it when he wasn’t there. In some ways I was able to see both sides: growing up with — and without — a father.”

[From People and WSJ. Magazine]

I really appreciate the fact that he’s acknowledging how much pain he’s caused to the people around him, and how much shame and pain that has caused him over the years. Addiction isn’t just about the addict, and alcoholism isn’t solely about the alcoholic. He’s lucky to be in a position where he still has a good relationship with his kids and his ex-wife, that he didn’t damage his career long-term, and that he’s survived long enough to get those second chances, third chances and fourth chances. One of my big theories about Ben is that not only is he an addict, he’s a compulsive self-saboteur, especially when he was younger. He gets itchy when things are going well, professionally or personally, and he finds some way to sabotage himself.

As for the stuff about kids needing two parents… I think that’s a very old-fashioned, perhaps even regressive, way of looking at parenting. Lesbian couples can raise their sons without needing a man. Widows and widowers, single parents of all types can be great parents even without a partner. I think Ben is talking more about himself and what he learned and didn’t learn from an absent father.


Covers courtesy of WSJ. Magazine.

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38 Responses to “Ben Affleck: ‘It’s important to have two parents for the rearing… of a child’”

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  1. Al says:

    Yes, I think he’s talking about how he didn’t have a male role model growing up. He’s been very pro gay marriage since the 90s so it feels like a stretch to think he means anymore more than that he wants to be present for his kids. Having a parents who peaces out does impact a child

    • Case says:

      I agree re: his comments on being raised by two parents. I don’t think he’s commenting on the different ways a family can be shaped — single parents, same-sex parents, etc. — but rather about his own responsibility to be present for his kids as someone who agreed to have three children.

    • Becks1 says:

      That’s what I think too. It’s the kind of comment that can seem tone-deaf, but in the overall context of him, I think it makes sense and isn’t as tone-deaf. I think he’s basically saying he intends to be around for his children in a way that his father wasn’t always, and that’s important to him.

      I’ll say that my husband’s dad peaced out on him and his mom at a young age (he saw his dad sometimes, but sometimes he went years without seeing him) and his eventual stepdad was emotionally absent, so I think he feels very strongly about being “present” in our children’s lives in a way that I don’t feel, growing up in a more stable family environment. Like I don’t think about being present, I just am, but I think for him it is a much more conscious thing. I don’t know if I’m explaining that well lol. Like he’s a really good dad and I don’t think he has to work that hard at it, but I do think he’s always thinking about whether he is a good dad and what a good dad means, which is hard when you don’t have an example.

      • Oh-dear says:

        my dad was raised by an alcoholic and abusive father and that had a significant hand in shaping him – he is conflict averse (me too and I get why he is) and will appease others too much. My husband’s did not have a healthy male role model – his mom left his father and cut him out and then married a much older man who was absent and self-absorbed. She was present but not in a healthy way. Both men in my life have been shaped by the presence and absence of a parent.

        I wonder if Ben isn’t acknowledging that that presence and showing up well is important because he felt the absence of a parent – and while a single parent and a broader community can be excellent for a child, I hear the disappointment in stories of absent parents. I think it is hurtful and many kids do carry that forward. It isn’t to say that a single parent is worse for a kiddo because that is not true either – a single good parent is so much more impactful than any dysfunctional parent – but I do think kids (and the adults they become) can often feel rejection, disappointment, resentment, etc for a parent who could have been a positive person in their not being there in that way.

      • AMA1977 says:

        @Becks, I understand what you mean. I was raised by largely “functional” parents (whatever that means, to me it means loving, supportive, tried their best, no significant dysfunction, modeled healthy adulthood) who remained and are still married to each other. My husband was adopted by much older parents; his mother has always been somewhat cold and emotionally distant, and there was some abuse and lots of dysfunction. His father was loving, but mom ruled with an iron fist an he let her. He is conscious of not repeating those behaviors in a way that I am not. It was important to him when we were planning our family that he not be “too old” to be a good, active, involved dad, and he follows my lead with parenting (authoritative vs. authoritarian, which is what he grew up with).

        I think if we’re lucky enough to come from a stable family of origin, we base our parenting on that model and refine it. Those who don’t have that “base” are much more aware of the choices they make and the importance they carry. I think that’s what Ben is saying, he’s taking the good parts and using the bad to make different choices for his own kids.

  2. Leigh says:

    This is why I have a bit more respect for Ben Affleck than Brad Pitt. He seems to always acknowledge Jennifer Garner is the stable parent, that he’s grateful for the mother she is to their children, that he messes up all the time and causes pain, etc. I don’t recall a PR smear campaign against her, either, or a drawn out custody battle. He seems to be able to acknowledge his shortcomings in a much more authentic way. I just don’t have a lot of hope that he won’t end up crashing and burning again, but maybe I’m wrong.

    • Karisma says:

      I agree with you Leigh Ben is a mess we know that but he acknowledged it and seemed to try to do better for his family meanwhile brad he’s a scumbag that only think about his image and happily smeared his mother’s kids to protect himself.

      About the interview, I think it was a good one. And for his point of view of the child needed 2 parents and the importance of the father figure, I read that as him talking about his own personal experience

      • Coco says:

        I agree with you , but Ben cares greatly about his image. He’s had Jen fix his image for years since the nanny. Whenever his image was tarnished he ran to Jen to do a photo op and fix it. Let’s not forget about his whole lie about his ancestors and having the network go with his lie.

        I think Ben learned from his past remember he blames JLO for ten years for his poor chooses and image tanking.

    • Lyds says:

      @Leigh Absolutely, as Affleck and Pitt are two different beasts. BA seems more like a typical, immature philanderer who struggles with alcoholism, whereas BP is actually abusive and is very good at keeping his demons private — his PR game was so strong that ppl never blamed him for his affair with Jolie. There were barely any rumors of affairs within his long-term relationships and he’s mindful not to get into anything messy (married German instamodel fiasco aside). Ben is a constant redemption story whereas Brad doesn’t think he needs to be redeemed.

  3. Case says:

    I appreciate how honest and straightforward he is about the struggles of addiction and the pain it causes other people.

    • Karisma says:

      @ Coco of course he cares about his image, I don’t think anyone working in Hollywood doesn’t care about it. My point was that he never went the brad pitt way, engaging fixers team, using pr tactics to destroy the mother’s of his kids to protect his image.

      • simmons says:

        Ditto with Karisma, I also think the extreme image conscious and media control he took was born out of the sudden backlash he suffered when Bennifer 1.0 happened. At the time, not just tabloids were against him/them, serious publishers such as New York Times, GQ, Rolling Stone, or ABC’s Diane Sawyer, etc were all against them. He learned the lesson the hard way. Ever since then, he has been building working relationships with key media outlets: People, US Weekly for the tabloids; NYT, GQ, television networks, Time, EW, THR for the established papers and trade magazines.
        He’s much cleverer than Brad Pitt, who only focuses on tabloids such as New York Post, Page Six, TMZ, Radaronline, etc.


    He had a lot of good, powerful points here. However, fuck this noise about how children must be raised by two parents.

    I don’t know how bad Ben was at his worst, but my father was an aggressive and violent alcoholic my whole childhood and is only just now in rehab. I am grateful to my single mom who raised me and my sisters and removed him from our house to keep us safe. I would much rather have been raised solely by a resilient, devoted, and resourceful mother than by her doing her best to parent in tandem with a man who lied, abused, manipulated. That would have destroyed me. My one-parent home didn’t mean I had a broken family. Staying in that chaos would have.

    • Malificent says:

      My dad’s father was also a violent alcoholic, so I’m grateful that my grandparents divorced when my dad was three. (His older siblings were old enough to be emotionally damaged by my grandfather’s behavior.) My dad had wonderful uncles and his best friend’s father (my “real grandpa” who my son is named in honor of) who more than filled the gap in a father figure.

      My son has never had a father, and I just got home from attending an award ceremony where my high school freshman was nominated by a teacher for his extra effort, kindness, and respectfulness. Like my dad, my son has wonderful uncles and family friends who can provide a male perspective that I can’t. But it doesn’t take a same-gendered parent to raise a well-behaved son — it just takes a parent who cares.

      I’m chill that Ben is talking about his own experience, and glad that he had a deep relationship with his father. But he should think twice about his phrasing. He may have also been talking about times when his own alcoholism caused him to be a less than present parent — I’m sure he was glad that his kids had another parent to take over when he dropped the ball.

    • Karisma says:

      @ Simmons

      Brad pitt is way more clever than Ben in that aspect. He knows how to keep his shit locked. There had been rumors of alcohol issues, cheating etc about Ben for years before it blew up but Brad? Not a word. It came out as a shock when the plane incident happened and his alcoholism and violence were revealed, it’s how good he is.

      • Simmons says:

        @karisma, I think partly the reason for Ben’s trouble with tabloids is that he is trying to live a regular straight guy life despite being a movie star. He’s always straight talking and less concerned about paparazzi, hence they’ve been following around him since his days with Gwyneth Paltrow. So maybe in a sense he’s less private than Brad.
        Anyway, when I am saying he’s cleverer than Brad in terms of tabloids relationship, I meant he has more control of them than him. There is at least one case of his using US Weekly cover to pursue JLo in the dl in 2019 whilst directly offending another superstar who, despite of their power in the industry, couldn’t pull down that cover. And possibly another recent case of him using People Magazine. I am based on his status and connections to the Warner Bros who originally owned Time Inc who owns People magazine for the latter case. And People was very thirsty to him and Jennifer Garner for courting their exclusive divorce announcement.

  5. Jules says:

    That photo of him with his eyes closed is so smug. And talking about enlightenment? Oh please…

    • Maggie says:

      Thank you! And why can’t he just say “For my family I feel…” instead of a blanketed statement that all children need 2 parents in order to be successful or fulfilled in life? What about military widows/widowers, all widowers, single parents of any nature… just stop Ben. Stop it.

  6. ReginaGeorge says:

    As someone who was a single mom for over a decade, who’s baby daddy was almost never in my kids life long enough to make a real impact, I have no issue with what BA says. He’s not wrong. If both parents are around, both parents should attempt to be a present and positive figure in their child’s life. I was lucky enough to have a lot support from male members of my family, but it still didn’t make up for my daughter’s father’s lack of presence and influence in her life. She has a host of daddy issues today thanks to him.

  7. Lena says:

    Oh Ben – out Oscar campaigning with in-depth articles again even though he says in the WSJ “it’s not wise to share everything in the world” while doing just that. He is now ranked 12th in the supporting actor prognostications (so far, it’s likely to go down). He had a better chance last year and didn’t get it with no real competition. And you’re right it’s not just second chances he’s gotten but 3rd and 4th and 5th, with everyone forgiving him his same harassment that they haven’t forgiven others.

    • Carolnr says:

      @ Lena
      Interestingly Ben is so open about his addiction issues shortly after George Clooney was quoted as saying he was worried about Ben being in a bar to film his scenes in the Tender Bar. i notice that Ben does not try to avoid bars or casinos, where alcohol flows freely & the temptation is great! i think Ben may think he is strong enough to avoid the temptation…

      • Marietta2381 says:

        @Carolnr, I am an alcoholic, been sober for over a decade. Honestly, Bars or anyplace that the liquor flows really cannot be avoided. Alcohol is literally everywhere. Commercials, billboards, tv shows, movies… and it’s only when you’re sober that you realize it. Especially when you’re in the middle of a 3-day non-stop craving.

        But, you can’t avoid it. You just learn to deal with it. So, there is really no point to avoid a bar, because you see alcohol everywhere any ways.

        @Lena the part of your comment that struck me is, “everyone forgiving him his same harassment that they haven’t forgiven others.” Are people not allowed to change, learn and grow from their mistakes? He has apologized, why not forgive? No one filed a lawsuit against him, no one pressed charges against him ( like others) and nothing since that time.

  8. Karisma says:

    I don’t know if he had a better chance to be nominated last year, the way back was released way too late for him to be considered a real contenter, it didn’t received the awards season movie slot.
    But I don’t think he’s getting nominated this year either, he’s getting good reviews from what I’ve seen but the tender bar not so much

  9. jjva says:

    OK but can we talk about why this dude with gambling addiction issues is advertising gambling on my TV? That does not jive with the enlightened dude image I am seeing presented here.
    (Note: I’m a gambler. Not a moral judgment. But I am definitely puzzled.)

    • Cock says:

      It dose go with who he is he’s opened big casinos before, which also never makes sense for somebody who has a gambling addiction.

    • a0 says:

      That’s never been confirmed. People close to him like Matt Damon and Jimmy Kimmel still attend poker events with him but don’t drink around him any more.

  10. Joey says:

    Ugh this is kinda giving me Brad/Angelina/Jen vibes. Like when Brad was gushing about Angie and Jen said there was a sensitivity chip missing. Maybe I’m reading too much into this.
    I kinda get the two parent comment but it sounds so old school. Families come in different packages and to say kids need a mother and father sounds pretty archaic. Not really a fan of his but I recognize everyone deserves a chance for redemption .

    • Al says:

      A lot of the interview was him talking about regrets and the pain he caused his family (Jennifer Garner). He’s always spoken highly of her

    • Coco says:

      I get what you mean he has said with JLO and his last girlfriend we’re the reason for his sobriety. How JLO is the love of his life, that he found true happiness, so on and so on. Those comments whether they were meant to or not seem to be a slap in the face for Jen.

      • Joey says:

        Agreed. It’s like he holds and views Jennifer Garner as the mother of his children, an excellent co parent (although its looks like she is the main parent) while he holds Jennifer Lopez as his true love. Which is totally fine I just think hmmm maybe keep that to yourself ya know what i mean? Lol.

      • Lena says:

        @coco and when he was with Jennifer g he would say insensitive things about JLo and his time with her and how it made him feel gross. He also said being with Ana made him not think about drinking like his kids were not enough to do that. He might well have a sensitivity chip missing as well as being someone who doesn’t respect women to act the way he did even when he was 42. People’s core doesn’t change that much and he’s still immature as he has proven.
        And he was definitely saying with that two parent comment that boys need a father. If I was Violet I’d be hurt by all kinds of things he’s said and done.

      • a0 says:

        He’s never credited anyone as the reason for his sobriety (because that’s not how sobriety works) and this is the only interview where he’s mentioned JLo obliquely. He hasn’t referred to her as the love of life or the source of his true happiness.

        If you’re referring to tabloid reports, take those with a big grain of salt and remember that there have been identical articles about how Jennifer Garner views her relationship with John Miller (he’s a grown up, she can trust him, yadda yadda)

      • Simmons says:

        @Lena, did you make that up re his comment on Ana De Armas? He never said anything about her through his own mouth. In fact, the only thing he said about her was through anonymous sources. It’s either she helped him lose weight (November 2020 US Weekly article) or breakup reasons. There was not a single article either by him or his anonymous sources saying that she helped him on sobriety.

  11. Twin falls says:

    “The most important thing is being a good father. The second most important thing is to be a good man. And a good person. And, ostensibly, you know, a good husband.”

    Ostensibly lol.

    • Joey says:

      LOL, it’s like he skimmed a thesaurus for this interview.

    • Karisma says:

      The things he said at that time weren’t against jlo but the circus that surrounded the relationship, the media frenzy, the fact that he became a tabloids fodder. Ppl chose to interpret it differently to make headlines.
      And his comment about boy needing a father makes sense in the context of the whole interview as he’s talking about his own experience as a boy growing up without one

  12. Valerie says:

    I think having two *parents,* not necessarily a mother and father, but maybe two moms or two dads probably helps. But by no means are you destined to be adrift your entire life if you were raised by a single parent.

    My parents are still married, but I consider my mom something of a single mom because my dad didn’t help raise us. He worked a lot and just wasn’t around much. He was a provider (my mom also worked), and I’m grateful for that, but I wish he could’ve been more present in my life. We don’t really have a solid relationship now, and I think that if he’d had a better work-life balance while we were growing up, things would be different. I think it’s rough when one parent knows that their kid trusts the other a little more, and it can be rough on the kid (even as an adult) if they feel, for whatever reason, that they can’t rely on their mom or their dad.