James Van Der Beek on how fatherhood changed him, advice to his younger self
James Van Der Beek has played numerous roles throughout his career -- Dawson Leery on "Dawson's Creek," Mox in "Varsity Blues" and himself in "Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23" -- but his favorite is dad.
The actor, 46, opened up about fatherhood in an interview with "Good Morning America," saying becoming a father is "the craziest thing I've ever done" but also "the thing that's made me happiest."
Van Der Beek and his wife Kimberly, whom he married in August 2010, are parents to six children under the age of 13 -- daughters Olivia, Annabel, Emilia and Gwendolyn, and sons Joshua and Jeremiah -- and he says having kids changed "everything" for him.
"What you genuinely want is to take care of them, to make them feel safe, to keep them safe, to connect with them and feel that joy," Van Der Beek said. "Your life becomes shared and your joys become shared joys, and in a really beautiful way, that expands your level of circuitry out to other people instead of just keeping it all for your own gratification."
"The lessons," he added, "they keep on coming."
With their oldest about to become a teenager later this year -- something Van Der Beek said is the "one thing" the couple didn't think through -- he's bracing for what's ahead.
"When you have six kids it's really, really cute, but I'm like, 'Are we going to have six teenagers in the same house?'" he joked.
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"I don't know that you're ever fully ready for any parenting stage until it's actually happening," he reasoned, adding that he and and his wife "try to keep as open a heart and open a mind as possible and ... hope for the best."
Van Der Beek and his family left Los Angeles for Texas back in 2020 in search of more space and what he calls "a better connection to nature."
"Anything that I want to do for me, whether it's any meditation or yoga or exercise, has to happen before the rest of the household wakes up," he noted. "So if I can do that, then [the day] gets off to a pretty good start."
He said his days over the past three years have been filled with with working on the ranch -- including "some attempts at carpentry" -- and making food from what they've grown in the garden, which he said "is finally doing really well."
As for his favorite time of the day? "Sunsets are our favorite," he gushed. "We've got a great spot where we can go watch the sun go down and the kids can play. I put up a bunch of ropes in the trees and they can run around and swing and kick the soccer ball and throw the football. There is no shortage of things to do for sure."
In addition to moving out of Los Angeles, Van Der Beek has also put a pause on his Hollywood career over the past couple years -- but he said he's ready to put himself back out there.
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"Living in Texas, I've been offered basically everything that I thought I really wanted before, and I just haven't had it in me to say yes, to leave where we're at," he confessed. "But I think it's time. My big thing is that my kids come with me, so we'll all go wherever we're going and figure it out."
He added, "This break has been really, really good for me. I think I've probably figured out a lot more of who I am and what's important in these last couple of years."
Van Der Beek, who is partnering with Quaker Chewy for the company's Play Pledge program, encouraging parents to commit to an hour of uninterrupted play with their children, also reminisced on "Dawson's Creek" premiering 25 years ago this January and revealed the advice he would tell his younger self.
"I would just say, 'Relax, dude. Don't overthink this, don't try to wrap your brain around it. Cut your hair in season 4, don't try to grow it long. And don't be surprised if six years of work gets reduced to a three-second GIF of you crying. It's all good. It's going to be OK,'" he shared.
"Dawson's Creek," a teen drama created by Kevin Williamson, put Van Der Beek -- as well as Katie Holmes, Joshua Jackson and Michelle Williams -- on the map and aired from 1998 to 2003.
"It was really such a wild ride," he reflected. "I'm grateful for all of it."
James Van Der Beek on how fatherhood changed him, advice to his younger self originally appeared on goodmorningamerica.com