Neil Patrick Harris Reveals the Magic Trick that Helps Him Parent
The actor, magician, and father-of-two shares how he really gets his twins to stop fighting in a game of Parenting Truths.
If you follow Neil Patrick Harris on Instagram, you'll wish you could spend a day with the Burtka-Harris clan. Harris, his husband, David Burtka, and two children, 7-year-old twins Gideon Scott and Harper Grace, can be seen in pictures taking grand adventures—diving through slip and slides, eating foreign delicacies, and partaking in over-the-top holiday celebrations.
Whether you've been following NPH since his "Doogie Howser, M.D." days, became a fan while he played Barney Stinson on "How I Met Your Mother," or only got to know him recently as Count Olaf in Netflix's "A Series of Unfortunate Events," it's hard to deny that his life is full of incredible opportunities. And the fun seems to have doubled once Gideon and Harper arrived.
But what's life in the Burtka-Harris family really like? "I feel like our life is just a bunch of blank pages in a big book and we're trying to fill them up as best we can, so I hope it will be a good read," Harris says.
He also said his family is constantly on the go, so portable snacks are a must in his household. "Our family travels a ton, not only internationally and domestically, but just throughout the day," he said. "We're going constantly from school to playdate, from tutor to gymnastics, from the park to the museum. We found that Jif Power Ups—the creamy granola clusters and the chewy granola bars—are the perfect snack for in between."
He gave us a sneak peek into some of the best chapters when he sat down with Parents.com at a Jif-sponsored event for a game of Parenting Truths:
He uses magic to help him parent (of course).
"Come on, there's no easier way to make two kids stop arguing about who gets a toy than to just have it disappear."
He has stayed in character around his kids.
"I most recently stayed in character as Count Olaf. They did not enjoy it at all. They did not mind the prosthetics, [but] they did not like the voice. When I FaceTimed them 'Hello, Children,' they would freak out, so I don't recommend it."
He doesn't encourage his children to become actors.
"I'd be really happy if they didn't do that job. I like the entertainment industry, there are a lot of opportunities to use not only your social skills but your practical skills and one of the trickiest things about acting is as good as you are, there are lots of variables as to why you don't get a job and there are way more people auditioning than get the job and all those other people feel like they did something wrong. It is a very sadistic profession. You have to really love it."
He talks to his kids like they're regular people, not babies.
"They don't need to be protected as much as you think. Yes, from the violence and the cursing and adult content, but they don't need to be talked to like they're babies. Their brains are big."
He skips work events to hang out with his family.
"I do that a lot. I am fortunate and have been able to work a lot. But jobs come and go and your kids and your family are only that age once. I want to be around."
He is very trusting that everything will be OK with his kids.
"I firmly believe that kids should be able to fall and land on their heads so that they know not to do that again. But if they are constantly [coddled], then I feel like when they do fall, they'll actually hurt themselves. So when babies are crawling out of cribs or dangling precariously over the edge of the crib I say, 'Eh, let them do it, if they fall and crash, they'll know not to do it again.' That didn't end well a couple of times."