Mario Lopez's immigrant parents shaped his parenting style: 'I want to instill that strong work ethic mentality in my kids'

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·Senior Lifestyle Editor
·3 min read
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Mario Lopez says growing up, he often spent time at local Boys and Girls Clubs, while his parents worked.
Mario Lopez says growing up, he often spent time at local Boys and Girls Clubs while his parents worked. "The clubs kept me out of trouble and occupied and had a major impact on my life," he says. (Photo: Getty; designed by Quinn Lemmers)

Welcome to So Mini Ways, Yahoo Life's parenting series on the joys and challenges of child rearing.

Though he's often busy working on projects like Peacock's Saved by the Bell reboot and an upcoming holiday romance movie, there are some things dad of three Mario Lopez refuses to miss.

"I'm always working but I manage to always have breakfast with the kids and be home for dinner," the Access Hollywood host tells Yahoo Life. "Oftentimes I also make their practices — Jiu-Jitsu and wrestling for my sons — and on the weekends I'm usually attending my daughter's gymnastics meets."

Lopez and wife Courtney share three kids: Gia, 11, Dominic, 8, and Santino, 2. The 48-year-old actor says without the help of his wife and parents, dad life would be a lot more difficult.

"I have a very understanding and supportive wife, so it all seems to work out," he says. "I know we're blessed that we've got my parents and my wife's parents close because it really does take a village. It's a team effort."

Lopez, who spoke with Yahoo Life as part of his work promoting a recent partnership between Chips Ahoy and Boys and Girls Clubs of America, says his own parents were immigrants, moving to California from Mexico before his birth. Because they were often busy working, he spent a lot of time at local Boys and Girls Clubs.

"My parents came here and it wasn't the most glamorous neighborhood they lived in," he says. "My dad worked for the city, my mom for the phone company, and I was a hyper kid with the potential for a lot of trouble. But the clubs kept me out of trouble and occupied and had a major impact on my life."

Boys and Girls Clubs, which will receive a $1 million donation from Chips Ahoy over three years to fund their art programs, inspired Lopez's passion for the arts and wrestling, interests that came in handy playing Bayside high school wrestling champion A.C. Slater on Saved by the Bell.

The actor's parents inspired his parenting style.

"They were very strict and tough disciplinarians," Lopez says of his mom and dad. "I love them to death: They instilled a strong work ethic and my kids are growing up in a much different environment than I did, but I still want to instill that strong work ethic mentality in them and teach them to never forget where they came from and to always try to be better."

With his own kids, Lopez says he's definitely the disciplinarian. "I would say I always try to come from a place of love but sometimes that's tough love," he says. "But I think if you do that, you can't go wrong. There's no democracy in my house. I run a dictatorship and I'm Castro."

So what's been Lopez's biggest surprise about parenthood?

"You find that you're arguing with little mini versions of yourself and that surprised me," he says. "But then also, all the love you put out and the joy it brings you. I've always loved kids and I've always been a family guy, but it's next-level when it happens to you."

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