October 09, 2008 10:45 AM

Christian Slater was a Gen X heartthrob on the fast track in the 80s, before publicly struggling with substance abuse in the 90s. Now the self-described sober father of two – the star of NBC’s My Own Worst Enemy – has reclaimed something lost along the way: a high school education.

“High school was not something that I remotely took seriously, and now I have got these kids,” Slater, 39, tells Parade magazine in its Oct. 12 issue. “I obviously care for them to get an education, and I want them to take it seriously, so I am going to have to do something.”

The actor has two children with ex-wife Ryan Haddon – Jaden, 9, and Eliana, 7. Slater says he swallowed his pride and joined a classroom of much younger students to study for the three-day GED test. Doing so meant facing one of his greatest fears: math.

Math Problem

“That was never a good subject for me. I hated math,” Slater, who hired a tutor to help him study, tells the magazine. “It ended up that I squeaked by. That was a good moment.”

Another proud accomplishment for Slater, now dating Jimmy Choo shoes founder and president Tamara Mellon, is his hard fought sobriety. Not that he is looking for a pat on the back for that, though. “It’s like expecting a reward for running out of a burning building,” says Slater, whom the magazine says has been sober for a couple of years.

As it was with his GED, the inspiration for his sobriety was his family, says Slater. “I wanted to be able to look them in the eye and feel they were looking into the eyes of somebody who was making an effort to take care of himself and be a better person,” he says.

PEOPLE previews My Own Worst Enemy
1997: Christian returns to rehab

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