The star of The Secret Life of Pets 2 shares that time he accidentally killed his kid's pet betta fish, and other relatable parenting moments.

By Gillian Nigro
Photo by Marion Curtis/StarPix for Universal Pictures

June 4, 2019

The guilt we feel when it comes to raising our kids is often unfounded. Like when we don’t live up to the unrealistic expectations that society sets for us. But for actor and comedian Patton Oswalt, he recently had reason to feel a bit guilty.

At a fan event for his upcoming movie, The Secret Life of Pets 2 (in theaters June 7!), Oswalt hilariously told us the story of his biggest parenting fail to date. His 10-year-old daughter, Alice, who he shares with his late wife, true crime author Michelle McNamara, had a betta fish and he had tasked himself with cleaning out its bowl.

“I scooped the fish out into its net, thought I had put it in the new bowl, and then put the net in the sink and washed it with boiling hot water and soap and basically… killed her fish,” Oswalt said with false cheerfulness, similar to the way he’s able to find humor in dark topics on the stand-up stage.

“We’ve since got her a new fish,” he added.

Oswalt also shared his biggest parenting win, with the caveat that this was equally to the credit of his wife, actress Meredith Salenger.

“My biggest parenting win of late was to get our daughter to try steak for the first time,” he said. “She is very much a mac ‘n’ cheese girl, and Meredith did some kind of jedi mind trick, weird fencing maneuver and got her to try steak and really like it.”

Oswalt married Salenger in November 2017, 18 months after his first wife died unexpectedly in her sleep. Suddenly he was a single father with an 8-year-old daughter and he needed to find a way to parent through his grief.

“After the darkness, I went through all the ways I had to strengthen myself to try to recognize joy again,” he told PEOPLE shortly after his wedding. “Meredith was a beacon I had to reach for.”

Oswalt and Salenger are now just two parents doing their best to raise a happy, healthy kid. The trio even did some voiceover work together on a recent episode of My Little Pony about a blended family. Oswalt calls Alice a “budding storyteller.”

We caught up with Salenger as well, who was at The Secret Life of Pets 2 event supporting her husband. She refers to herself as a “new mom” and shared her best advice for getting kids to do things, like eating their vegetables, or in Alice’s case, steak.

“I say I’m not trying to be mean; I just want you to be healthy. Or if I say don’t be on your iPad for so long, I say I’m not trying to be restrictive; I just don’t want your brain to turn to mush,” she said. “So every time I give her some sort of advice or rule, I always make a caveat letting her know that it’s just because I love her.”

Alice is one lucky girl to have such wise and loving parents.



Photo by Marion Curtis/StarPix for Universal Pictures


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