Wisdom from Marky Mark

He used to be known as Marky Mark, a rapper and one-time poster boy for Calvin Klein underwear whose chiseled body seemed carved out of granite. Today we know him as Mark Wahlberg, a 43-year-old actor/director/entrepreneur with four kids under 11 years and a wife who’s an ex-model.

A celebrity dad is hardly the first person I’d turn to for insight as a fellow parent, especially when this one employs a nanny for his two daughters as well as a “manny” for his two boys. But Wahlberg seems like the real deal, judging from a piece in the June/July issue of Esquire, an issue devoted to exploring fatherhood.

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Granted, Father’s Day was two Sundays ago, but here are two takeaways from the Wahlberg interview.

1. He walks the talk.

Mark was the youngest of nine children that grew up in Dorchester, Mass., a working class neighborhood of Boston. He’s come from poverty and a troubled past (using cocaine and other drugs at 13; serving time for an assault) to establishing a youth foundation 10 years ago to give kids advantages he didn’t have. The foundation raises money for mentoring, summer camps for underprivileged kids and other programs.

He routinely goes to sleep after dinner, at 6:45 p.m., and rises at 1:30 a.m. to work out. This way, he is around when the kids wake up and he can take them to school. Every morning, he attends Catholic mass. On Sunday, the whole family goes together.

2. He’s got the right perspective on parenting.

“I think the most important thing is to always be involved in every aspect of their life,” Wahlberg says of his children. “To give them enough trust that they can share things with you. I don’t want them to be terrified of me, you know? But I don’t want them to think they can do whatever they want and get away with it, either, because they can’t.

“The biggest thing for me is, you know, as quickly as I was able to turn it around, to get from there to here, from me having nothing as a kid to me here now, providing everything for my kids, it’s like, I worry that maybe they won’t appreciate things. I worry that maybe they’ll have a sense of entitlement. You don’t wanna give your kids everything without giving them the tools to be great people.”

Rich or poor, or somewhere in between, those are words to live by.

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