He’s one of the biggest actors in Hollywood. He owns a tequila brand, a mobile phone business, an advertising studio, he even bought a soccer club. Ryan Reynolds is having himself a career. But some of the best lessons we can learn from Reynolds aren’t about acting or clowning Hugh Jackman on Instagram (two of the things he’s best at), they’re about being a dad.
Reynolds has always been vocal about how much he loves being a father to the three daughters he shares with his wife Blake Lively. “Oh my god, I would not have it any other way,” he said in an interview. “I’m the youngest of four boys, so for me to have three daughters has just been such a ride, and I love every second of it.”
His actions more than back up his words. Here are three things you can borrow from the Deadpool star to keep your passion for parenting at its peak and to be the kind of dad your kids deserve.
Take Time To Enjoy It
Reynolds career had never been hotter in early 2022. It would’ve been understandable for him to keep his foot on the gas and leverage his superstardom to tackle even bigger projects. Instead, he slammed on the brakes. He decided to take a hiatus from acting, from producing, from being a world-famous celebrity, to focus more on “being a present dad.”
“The biggest thing for me is that I don’t want to miss this time with my kids,” he said in an interview with LinkedIn. “I really enjoy being a present dad. I love taking them to school in the morning. I love picking them up.”
Reynolds said he’s trying to create more space for his family and more time with them. “You know, you don’t really get that time back,” he said in another interview.
Not only do you not get that time back, but you’re not guaranteed to get more time tomorrow, so if there is something that is important to you, that you want to be more present for and involved with, now is the time to do it. “You could leave life right now,” Marcus Aurelius wrote. “Let that determine what you do and say and think.”
It’s natural to focus on maximizing your earning potential and it can be easy to fall into the workaholic trap, especially with young kids to care for and set up for success in the future, but all that money later at some indeterminate point in the future will never compete with the value and meaning of the time you spend with them now. The impact you’ll make on your kids by being a present dad will far outweigh a nicer vacation or a newer car or a downpayment on a condo.
Of course, it’s not like you have to quit your job to prioritize time with your kids over time at the office. And Reynolds wasn’t suggesting that. He still has plenty of projects he’s working on while his kids are in school. He just decided to turn down loads of incredibly lucrative work that would drag him away from home too long.
The years when your kids are still psyched to have you around don’t last forever. Enjoy every part of them.
Learn From Your Parenting Mistakes
No parent is perfect. Reynolds knows this as well as any dad, as he spoke about in a recent interview. He still has moments when he’ll “just snap.” When the kids aren’t listening, when they’re doing exactly what you told them not to do, when they’re just in one of those button-pushing, boundary-exploring moods that we all will experience as parents and that will push us to the breaking point. The important thing as a parent is to have enough self-control to decide what happens next in those situations, instead of letting the emotions carry you away.
“Between stimulus and response there is a space,” the famed psychologist Viktor Frankl wrote. “In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” We will not always choose correctly, but in that failure is the possibility for growth.
“It’s not so much what you do in the moment that’s interesting, it’s what you do afterwards,” Reynolds said in the interview, echoing that idea Frankl so eloquently expressed. “I used to tell my kids, ‘Don’t waste your mistakes. When you’re making mistakes it’s easy to be sort of absorbed by shame and sort of this idea that you’ve done something wrong, but you also have to look at it critically and use it as a stepping stone to learning something profound.”
You will mess up as a parent. That’s OK. What’s not OK is to let yourself be consumed by guilt and shame afterwards. Instead, accept it as a learning opportunity, as a moment for growth, that will make you a better man, a better person, and a better father. Never stop learning. You won’t stop making mistakes, but you’ll be making better mistakes. And you’ll be teaching your kids an important lesson about the mentality they should take when they mess up in their own lives.
Talk About Your Mental Health Challenges
A seemingly calm, cool, collected Hollywood star, Ryan Reynolds has suffered from a lifetime of anxiety. You wouldn’t guess that seeing him tease interviewers on the red carpet or trading jokes with a late night television host, but the actor opened up about his anxiety in an Instagram post during Mental Health Awareness month. The reason he decided to get more vocal about his mental health challenges? His daughters.
Talking about the revelation to People Magazine, he said “part of my job as a parent is to model behaviors and model what it’s like to be sad and model what it’s like to be anxious or angry. That there’s space for all these things,” he said.
We try to be perfect as parents, and project a calm stability in front of our kids. It’s natural to want to shield them from any extra worry or stress on your plate, but it’s healthier for them to see how you handle those situations too. They should know things aren’t always perfect, and learn how to carry themselves when that happens. Don’t unload everything on your kids, obviously. Don’t make them feel bad or ask them to fix things for you, but be honest and authentically vulnerable with them when the situation demands it.
“I know that when I felt at the absolute bottom, it’s usually been because I felt like I was alone in something I was feeling,” Reynolds said. “So I think when people talk about it, I don’t necessarily dwell on it or lament on it, but I think it’s important to talk about it. And when you talk about it, it kind of sets other people free.”
The Deadpool movies are terrific. Free Guy was a huge hit for Disney. Red Notice was one of Netflix’s biggest movies ever. And while his work has provided hours of entertainment for people, taking away just these three things from Reynolds’ own experiences as a father, will have a far more profound effect on your life as a person and as a dad.
Be present for your kids, even if it means taking a step back from work. Don’t wallow in your mistakes, learn from them, and don’t make them again. Be open about what you’re struggling with, so you can model a full range of emotions for your kids.
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