James Van Der Beek on parenting: 'I never felt any ownership over my kids' originally appeared on goodmorningamerica.com
This year is a big one for James Van Der Beek and his family.
Not only will the former "Dancing With the Stars" competitor celebrate his 10th wedding anniversary with his wife, Kimberly, in August, but their eldest child, Olivia, is turning 10 in September.
As a father of five, Van Der Beek said it's "wild" to watch his children grow up, and adds that as they mature, they "reveal themselves to you."
"I never felt any ownership over my kids. I always felt like we just won this cosmic adoption lottery -- that we get to know this person and never like they were ours, necessarily," he told "Good Morning America."
"You see what they have going on in their heads and their hearts, and then you see what's going on behind their eyes that you know they're not telling you," he added. "They've been dependent on you for so long, and now they have this agenda that may or may not involve you or that they may or may not tell you about. It's really just astounding."
Van Der Beek, 42, spoke with "GMA" as part of his partnership with Always and Walmart's #EndPeriodPoverty campaign, which aims to donate up to 1.5 million pads to girls in need. As the father of four girls -- Van Der Beek and his wife, 37, are parents to Olivia, 9; Joshua, 7; Annabel, 5; Emilia, 3; and Gwendolyn, 1 -- the mission was especially personal.
"When you're younger you think about yourself quite a bit and your thinking doesn't really extend -- at least mine didn't really extend -- too far beyond my own needs. But then you have kids, and especially daughters, and you start looking at the world from a whole different perspective and things that you never thought about before all of a sudden you realize are really big issues, like period poverty," he said. "No girl should ever miss out on something they love because they don't have access to period products."
He also wants to start conversations around the issue. Openness is a quality that's important to Van Der Beek, who told "GMA" that he also tries to be as communicative as possible with his children. The former "Varsity Blues" star said that he always tells his friends who ask to "treat every moment as an opportunity for connection."
"What kids ... want most is connection with their parents," he said. "So whether you're trying to calm them and they're screaming at four in the morning or you're playing catch with them or you're on vacation, if you just stop and recognize, 'OK, this is an opportunity for connection,' then you're already thinking about a better way to engage with them."
"They all have different demeanors, different ways about them, different things they're naturally drawn to ... They're gonna be who they're gonna be, and you can try to repress it if you want to go that route, but you're not going to succeed," he added. "I think that's the real parenting lesson if I didn't recognize it before, which is... you're there to foster who they are."