Ryan Reynolds explains why having anxiety made him a better parent

‘Deadpool’ actor shares four children with wife Blake Lively

Meredith Clark
New York
Wednesday 29 May 2024 18:19 BST
Related: Ryan Reynolds opens up about fatherhood: ‘Leaving the house is getting harder and harder’

Ryan Reynolds has revealed how his mental health has given him a fresh perspective on fatherhood.

The 47-year-old actor recently opened up about his anxiety struggles in a wide-ranging cover story with Hugh Jackman for People. The Wolverine star applauded Reynolds for being so candid about his past experiences with anxiety, and asked if he believes being a father has made his anxiety “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,” Reynolds told Jackman.

The Green Lantern star went on to explain how his own struggles with anxiety have allowed him to recognise when his children are experiencing similar feelings of stress or self-doubt.

“Now I love that I have anxiety, I love that I’ve had anxiety,” he continued. “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.”

Not only has Reynolds been able to adapt his anxiety struggles to his family life, but he’s also been able to positively channel some of his anxiety when it comes to his work.

“My job benefits greatly,” he said. “People who have anxiety are constantly thinking into the future. You’re constantly: ‘What if this happens? What if that happens?’ You’re always telling yourself stories.

“So when we’re shooting Deadpool & Wolverine, I’m not just shooting the movie, I’m also sitting in the audience as a cautious critic going: ‘I don’t like that. I don’t buy that.’ So anxiety creates that ecosystem of awareness that I wouldn’t otherwise [have].”

Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively pose with their daughters during Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony in December 2016
Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively pose with their daughters during Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony in December 2016 (Getty Images)

This isn’t the first time the Free Guy star has shared details about his anxiety struggles. Most recently, he admitted that his mental health can “spin out of control” sometimes and that he’s “not always great” at maintaining a healthy balance.

“I certainly have my own little rituals and those kinds of things that help me stay grounded and keep my mind from spinning out of control,” he told Page Six last October. “Sometimes I’m really good at it, sometimes I’m not.”

When he becomes aware of those “out of control” moments, Reynolds said that he meditates in order to “take the time” for himself to regroup. He also shared how he’s become aware of his own lifestyle traits that he wants to work on amid his mental health struggles.

“I tend to overbook myself when I’m spiraling that way,” he said. “I’m sort of aware of that stuff and I manage it as well as you can.”

Reynolds shares four children with wife and fellow actor, Blake Lively. The couple, who have been married since 2012, are parents to three daughters: James, nine, Ines, seven, and Betty, four. The pair welcomed their fourth child in early 2023, though they haven’t publicly revealed the baby’s name or gender.

While Reynolds and Lively have kept their youngest child’s name close to the vest, the Wrexham AFC co-owner recently joked that it’s up to pop star Taylor Swift to choose their baby’s moniker. The 14-time Grammy winner famously used the names of their daughters as characters in her 2020 album Folklore, specifically in the track titled “Betty”. On Swift’s 2017 album Reputation, a little girl – who was credited as James Reynolds in the album’s liner notes – is also heard calling out the word “gorgeous” in the beginning of Swift’s song, “Gorgeous”.

During an appearance on the Today show earlier this month, co-anchor Savannah Guthrie asked Reynolds whether his baby’s name is hidden in Swift’s latest album, The Tortured Poets Department. “We always wait for Taylor to tell us what the child’s name is,” he quipped in response. “And we’ll say this: We’re still waiting.”

“She’s a prolific writer. So, what are we doing here? And ‘lazy’ is not a word I’d attach to Taylor,” Reynolds added.

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