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12 Famous Dads Share Parenting Wisdom

Reflections from 50-something dads like Matthew McConaughey, Will Smith and more

spinner image John Stamos and his family
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 04: Actor and host John Stamos (C) with his son Billy Stamos and wife Caitlin McHugh during A Capitol Fourth at U.S. Capitol, West Lawn on July 04, 2019 in Washington, DC.
Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Capital Concerts, Inc.

Matthew McConaughey

Matthew McConaughey, his wife Camila Alves McConaughey and their children attend the ceremony honoring Matthew McConaughey with a Star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Michael Tran/FilmMagic

"I want my kids to be conscientious and understand the world we live in and that there are certain expectations, rules and regulations. But hey, be an original thinker, too,” shared the Oscar-winning actor, 51, who has three children with wife Camila Alves, in AARP The Magazine's June/July 2021 cover story.

Vern Yip

spinner image Vern Yip and Craig Koch
Vern Yip and Craig Koch attend the 14th Annual UNICEF Snowflake Ball in New York City.
Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for UNICEF

"We want [our kids] to be globally minded, we want them to be kind, good people,” the Hong Kong-born interior designer, 52, who has a son and daughter with partner Craig Koch, told People in 2017. “We love to expose them to as much as possible … an important part of parenting is to teach your children that the world is a big place.”

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John Stamos

spinner image John Stamos and his family
Actor John Stamos with his son Billy Stamos and wife Caitlin McHugh.
Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Capital Concerts, Inc.

"At the end of the day, you don't want a trophy and you don't ‘win,’ you don't get a ring. But if you do it right, you've raised a kid that's loving enough, that's smart enough, and that's caring enough to be a better version of yourself. I get choked up thinking about it,” said Stamos, 57, who became a first-time dad with the 2018 birth of son Billy, in an interview with ET.

John Leguizamo

spinner image John Leguizamo and his family
Lucas Leguizamo, Justine Maurer, John Leguizamo and Allegra Leguizamo attend the Tony Awards in New York City.
Steven Ferdman/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

"There are some great qualities to my father, but he was an absent father figure, and now he's an absent grandfather figure. I want to be present,” the 56-year-old actor and dad of two told Psychology Today in 2005. “Men are realizing that there's a great thing to be had by [spending time with] kids. It feeds you."

Will Smith

spinner image Will Smith with his family
Actor Trey Smith, singer Willow Smith and actors Jaden Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith attend the Environmental Media Association 26th Annual EMA Awards.
Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Environmental Media Association

This 52-year-old dad of three says he takes a “gardener/flower” approach to fatherhood: “The gardener is not trying to make the seed become what the gardener wants; the gardener wants to create an environment where the seed can become what it wants to be,” Smith explained during a 2020 episode of Facebook series Red Table Talk, hosted by wife Jada Pinkett Smith.

Matt Damon

spinner image Matt Damon with his wife
Matt Damon and wife Luciana Barroso.
NICK AGRO/AFP via Getty Images

"The only way I can describe it — it sounds stupid, but — at the end of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, you know how his heart grows like five times? Everything is full; It's just full all the time,” the actor, 50, said of parenthood (he's dad to four girls with wife Luciana Barroso) in a 2011 interview with Parade magazine.

Marc Anthony

spinner image Marc Anthony with his family
Cristian Marcus Muniz, Maximilian David Muniz, Marc Anthony and Ryan Adrian Muniz attend the 2016 Person of the Year honoring Marc Anthony.
Rodrigo Varela/WireImage

The 52-year-old singer and father of five (including twins Max and Emme with ex-wife Jennifer Lopez) reflected on parenthood on CBS’ Sunday Morning in 2016: “The one regret would be that [my career] took so much of my time. What I would have done to have been a stay-at-home dad and, you know, witnessed every second of everything. I would have loved that."

Patton Oswalt

spinner image Patton Oswalt with his daughter
Patton Oswalt and Alice Oswalt attend the 61st Annual GRAMMY Awards.
Rich Fury/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

"I've missed forms for school. I've forgotten to stock the fridge with food she likes. I've run out of socks for her. I've run out of socks for me. It sucked and it was a hassle every time, but the world kept turning. I said, ‘Whoops, my bad,’ and fixed it and kept stumbling forward,” the 52-year-old comedian wrote in a 2016 essay for GQ after the death of his wife, the author Michelle McNamara, left him a single father to daughter Alice.

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Javier Bardem

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Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz.
Laurent KOFFEL/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

"We don't own our children. They're not ours, but rather we're at their service. We brought them here and it's up to them to decide” what they want, said the Spanish actor, 52, who has two children with wife Penélope Cruz, in a 2017 interview with Agencia EFE.

Brad Pitt

spinner image Brad Pitt and his family
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are seen after landing at Los Angeles International Airport with their children.

"My dad always said he wanted to give me a better life than he had coming from extreme poverty, and he did it,” the Oscar winner, 57, and dad of six with ex-wife Angelina Jolie told CNN in 2019. “And it makes me think, as a dad, what do I have to offer that's better than I had, to my kids?”


spinner image Jay Z with his family
Jay Z, daughter Blue Ivy Carter and Beyonce.
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for NARAS

"Feeling loved is the most important thing a child needs … as long as your child feels supported and feels loved, I think anything is possible, “ the 51-year-old rapper and dad (he and wife Beyoncé have three children) said in an interview with The Sunday Times.

Ryan Murphy

spinner image Ryan Murphy with his family
Ryan Murphy, Logan Miller and David Miller attend "The Politician" New York Premiere.
John Lamparski/Getty Images

"I have such perspective on what I wished I would've had as a child now that I have children,” the 55-year-old showrunner Murphy, who has three sons with husband David Miller, shared with The Hollywood Reporter in 2015. “So, I find myself saying to them constantly: ‘You're special. You can do it. I'm proud of you.'”

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