Welcome to So Mini WaysYahoo Life’s parenting series on the joys and challenges of child-rearing.
Brian Austin Green was 29 when his oldest son, Cassius, was born; his youngest, Zane, arrived this June, just a couple of weeks before the actor tuned 49.
Speaking to Yahoo Life’s So Mini Ways, the former Beverly Hills, 90210 star and father of five says fatherhood hits differently as an older dad.
“At 49, I don’t have the same physical ability, obviously, to be as hands-on as I was when I was younger,” says Green, giving credit to his Zane’s “amazing mother,” dancer Sharna Burgess of Dancing With the Stars fame. “Sharna is such a partner in all of it that it’s just been so enjoyable.”
Green also counts himself lucky that there’s no sibling drama within his modern family. In addition to nearly 3-month-old Zane and 20-year-old Cassius, whose mom is actress Vanessa Marcil, he shares Noah, 9, Bodhi, 8, and Journey, 6, with ex-wife Megan Fox.
“All of them are so obsessed with Zane and just so in love with him,” Green says. “And there’s been no issue with that at all; there’s been no friction in the situation. Things that could have naturally happened in having a baby with someone new — the younger kids that I have taking issue with that, because there’s a new one that they’re not completely blood-related to on both sides — it could have been so difficult and just hasn’t been. From day one, they’ve absolutely embraced Sharna and now embrace Zane. It’s been amazing. .”
As far as his parenting style, the TV star says that while he isn’t afraid to be a disciplinarian, he firmly believes in giving his kids the freedom to be themselves.
“I don’t own these kids,” he says. “I don’t want to push upon them my passions or the things that make me me. I enjoy the fact that they are individuals and I love really helping them find the individuality, and their passions and the things that make them them. I feel like my job as a parent is to make sure, morally, that they are good people when they grow up.”
His parenting philosophy is this: “Just love your kids,” Green says. “Just accept them for who they are and be loving and kind and supportive of everything that they do. Don’t let your own experiences in your own life get in the way of allowing them to experience and live their lives. Be OK with stepping back a little bit and not micromanaging the situation.”
He points to his older son Cassius as proof that he’s done something right.
“I feel so blessed and I’m so excited watching him navigate the world himself. Hearing from people like, ‘Oh, I’ve met him, and he’s just an amazing human being,’ — I feel like, OK, that’s one down,” he laughs. “I’ve done good with one so far, so four more to go. If he is any sort of [testament] of what it is that I’m doing and have done, then good on it so far. It seems to be working.”
Fatherhood has also been a wakeup call for Green to prioritize his health so that he can be there for his kids. Since his early 30s the actor has suffered from ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease that can cause inflammation and ulcers in the digestive tract and is linked to an increased risk of prostate cancer, though he admits that he hasn’t always been proactive about undergoing annual screenings. He’s now partnering with Depend on its Stand Strong For Men’s Health campaign, in which a portion of proceeds from sales will be donated to the Prostate Cancer Foundation from now until the end of November.
“I hadn’t really taken my health that seriously as far as doing annual screenings and all of that,” admits Green, who recently completed a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test as part of the campaign. “And there was a bit of stigma for me in doing a prostate exam because it just felt very invasive at the time. But that was before this PSA test that is now possible; it’s a simple blood draw.”
Prostate cancer is diagnosed in one out of eight men in the United States, and is something that Green says “could affect myself and my family and my kids — and I personally want to be here as long as I can for them.”
Though Green says his ulcerative colitis only flares up every two or three years, one particularly debilitating episode came midway through Burgess’s pregnancy earlier this year. The former teen heartthrob was bedridden for more than six weeks and lost 20 pounds. That, coupled with past neurological issues Green has dealt with, has hammered in the importance of keeping on top of his health.
“I have five kids,” he adds. “I’m 49 years old. At some point I’ve got to stop the thing of feeling like I’m a superhero and like nothing is going to affect me.”
—Video produced by Kat Vasquez
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