EXCLUSIVE: The Secret Life Of Pets 2’s Patton Oswalt Gets Real About Parenting

Under the direction of Chris Renaud and Jonathan Del Val, The Secret Life of Pets 2 animated film creatively draws fans of the franchise back into the fun, adventurous and sometimes mysterious lives of our favorite pet friends. Pets 2 cleverly gives viewers a glimpse of what really happens in the lives of pets when their pet owners are not at home. Things have changed for Terrier Max (Patton Oswalt) since the original film. He is having a hard time adjusting to his owner (Ellie Kemper)’s new marriage and toddler, Liam. Like any pet parent Max has taken a liking to the new toddler in his life so much so that he develops serious anxiety, begins to lose his courage and starts to exude the characteristics of a helicopter parent. To make matters worse on a family trip to a farm, a series of events further push Max into the realm of fear and worry.

In Pets 2, we get a glimpse of the negative effects of being overly cautious, worrisome and protective of the children, pets and things that one loves most. Additionally, viewers get to see how different personalities respond to circumstances of life. Ultimately, Max learns that it is okay to be afraid for the ones that you love the most, and that it is equally as valuable to let the ones you love have enough space to grow. In Pets 2, viewers definitely get to see more of an arc in Max’s character as he transitions from being overwhelmed and bewildered by the toddler to growing into an overly protective, pet-parent of Liam.

Moms.com recently had the opportunity to have a one on one conversation with Oswalt, where he discussed his parenting style and even gave a few parenting tips.

In The Secret Life of Pets 2, Max is struggling with courage and he’s having a hard time with letting toddler Liam grow up. In what ways has becoming a parent made you more courageous?

Wow! I have so much more courage and it's directly a result of becoming a parent. When you become a parent there's this new life. It's very fragile and it’s dependent upon me for everything. You become so much more strong and brave when you realize that the bulk of life is not about you. You are not the center of this story. When you start realizing that about yourself, it actually gives you the courage to do things where you're not worried about how you're going to look. Am I going to be cool? Are the right people going to like me for doing this? When you become a parent and you are committed to the job of parenting, there's all this stuff that you used to think was important that you realize is not, and it never was.

Are there things about yourself that you fear you may transfer to your kids?

Yes, sure. I try to be conscious of my actions, because I believe that who a person is in their actions speaks way louder than what you say. So, whatever you say to your kids, if they see you acting a different way or reacting a different way; that's what they'll pick up on way more than what you tell them. Well, that's because it didn't matter what you said. To kids, it matters what you do.

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Is there anything that you have learned in your experiences and interactions with dogs or animals that lends itself towards better understanding of human interaction?

I have learned a lot from interacting with animals on a day to day basis, owning dogs and cats, watching people with their dogs and animals, because you can see things in their eyes, faces, their bodies and their body movements that you wouldn’t otherwise see in humans. That's why I love dogs so much. They're just all in. When they are happy, every inch of them is happy and not just their eyes. Have you ever heard that expression? Like someone smiles with their mouth and not with their eyes? Like it's a false smile. Well, a dog smiles with its whole being.

What are some lessons that you’ve learned as a result of being a parent that you could share with our parenting community?

The main thing that I learned from my daughter is that the closer you are to childhood in your actions, in your imagination, then the more resilient and strong you are when you're dealing with tragedy and trauma. She has a much bigger acceptance of the world that I do, I think.

As you get older, things get taken away from you and you start to protect against that. It's almost like you lose the capacity to look forward the same way that you did as a child. So if you can somehow invoke that childlike sense of looking forward and being optimistic, I think you can deal with life a lot better. Just a childlike sense of looking at the world is something that's good to evoke in your children.

Why should parents bring their children to see The Secret Life of Pets 2?

The parents are going to have as good a time, if not more so than the kids. And the reason is that they are going to watch their kids laughing at all the goofy antics and adventures. They're going to see these moments when the movie sneaks in these lessons about life, courage and moving forward. Parents will be able to use Max as a reference. Parents will be able to say, “Remember in the movie how Max was dealing with it? How about we be like Max about this? And that it is okay to have fear. It's okay to be afraid. You don't have to be brave immediately. Max is not brave immediately. It takes him a few tries to get his courage.

The Secret Life of Pets 2 premieres in theaters nationwide on June 7th.

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