Mario Lopez on Fatherhood, Faith, and Parenting Lessons
With two kids younger than 5 in the house, Mario Lopez -- host of Extra, actor, and best-selling author (of recent memoir Just Between Us) -- is "loving the chaos."
Do you have summer vacation plans?
We're going to Puerto Vallarta with my sister and her kids. All together, it will be seven kids. We've been taking my children [Gia, 4, and Dominic, 21 months] to Mexico every year since they were born. Knowing where their culture and language are from is important, and we still have family there. The kids have these funny passports; we had to hold their heads up for the pictures because they couldn't do it yet.
How is their handle on Spanish?
Not bad! A lot better than mine when I was that age, because my parents and our nanny talk to them in Spanish. So they get a lot of it. My daughter understands and speaks it. She actually takes a Spanish class.
What's life like now that you have two mobile kids?
My wife [actress and producer Courtney Mazza] and I call our son Wreck-It Ralph, because he destroys everything. He's got a lot of fire in him. My daughter is very dramatic. She's been sick recently, and this morning she said, "Oh, my God, I'm not going to feel better! My cough is never going to go away!" I told her, "Don't worry, you'll be okay."
You're a devout Catholic. What role does spirituality play in their lives?
We try to go to church as a family every week, sometimes without the baby, because babies will act up. If not, my daughter and I will go every week. They're definitely going to go to Catholic school. It's really important to me that they get a faith-based education.
You credit your parents for your values. Which of their biggest lessons are you passing on to your kids?
First and foremost, it's got to be to treat others with respect. Be polite: Manners go a long way. Try to come from a good place. And aside from that, stay focused and do the right thing.
What's the biggest lesson that you've learned about fatherhood since becoming a dad?
There are no time-outs, really. Weekends, you think you can catch up on rest, and it's the opposite. It gets even busier. It's a different kind of busy.
Given that they are more economically privileged than you were growing up, is it important for you to keep your kids humble?
I don't want them to be spoiled. I make sure to communicate, especially with my little girl, how blessed she is -- by going to church, to Boys & Girls Clubs, to certain events where kids don't have it so good, where she'll be able to witness need and recognize it and later be able to help.
Originally published in the Summer 2015 issue of Parents Latina magazine.