Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell are known for their brutally honest style of parenting. They talk with their daughters Lincoln, 8, and Delta, 6 openly about subjects like death and sex which many parents avoid and they even revealed that Santa Claus doesn’t exist! The horror!
“We just pretty much tell them anything if they ask us. We don’t dumb it down,” Shepard told People. “If Kristen and I are known publicly for any aspect of parenting, it’s that.”
And during a new appearance on Chelsea Clinton’s In Fact podcast, Shepard, 46, opened up about his relapse last fall and how he addressed the situation with his kids. When Clinton asked how the actor speaks about his substance abuse struggles with his kids, he replied, “Just like I’m talking to you.”
He also disclosed that he tells his daughters he goes to AA meetings. “They know that Dad goes to an AA meeting every Tuesday and Thursday,” he said.
He also told a story about how his oldest daughter, Lincoln, wanted to be just like him.
“One of the cuter moments was, I wanna say [Lincoln] was 3 — back when my daughters really wanted to be with me 24 hours a day — and she said, ‘Where are you going?’ I said, ‘I’m going to AA,'” he continued. “She said, ‘Why do you have to go?’ I go, ‘Because I’m an alcoholic and if I don’t go there then I’ll drink and I’ll be a terrible dad.’ And she said, ‘Can I go?’ I said, ‘Well, no, you got to be an alcoholic.’ And she goes, ‘I’m gonna be an alcoholic.’ I said, ‘You might become one. The odds are not in your favour, but you’re not there yet.'”
And then of course they addressed the issue of his relapse. “They knew when I relapsed. We explained, ‘Well, daddy was on these pills for his surgery and then daddy was a bad boy and he started getting his own pills,'” Shepard told Clinton on Tuesday’s episode. “Yeah, we tell them the whole thing.”
The Parenthood alum recounted his past history with alcohol and cocaine use and explained that he finally became sober 16 years ago. Then, after injuries and multiple surgeries from two motorcycle accidents and an ATV accident, Shepard used opioids to manage pain. But he began buying painkillers illegally and started lying to his friends and family about his actions and withdrawal symptoms.
Speaking openly and honestly with children about a parent’s addiction or relapse is brave and it also sets the kids up to ask questions or express their own fears. Shepard’s choice to disclose his relapse with his kids rather than hiding it is incredibly bold, as is his decision to share with the rest of the world.