We have one more reason to love the Lacheys. Yesterday, Toys "R" Us released its annual Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids and we couldn't be happier that Nick was featured on this year's cover. Growing up with a special needs brother, Nick is dedicated to showing love and respect to all kids—especially his son Camden, 2, and daughter Brooklyn, 8 months. Parents chatted with the singer about raising respectful children, how he keeps his loves close to his heart, and the potential for another album(!).
P: How much does it mean to you to be on the cover of the Toys "R" Us special guide, particularly having a brother on the spectrum?
NL: I was very honored. The shoot was a real treat. I got to spend the afternoon with four fantastic kids and their families. As someone who grew up with a brother who has Asperger's and is a special needs child, I feel like I got to see firsthand that there needs to be some considerations. This guide is a perfect resource. Whether you're a family member or a caregiver or a friend of the family who is wondering what to get for a birthday party you can make sure you're getting something that is good for that child.
P: Our culture has recently made strides to be more inclusive—to show special needs kids with typically developing children. What in your mind do we need to do to continue that forward progress?
NL: I think it's about understanding and it's about inclusion to use your word. I think the worst thing for a kid is to feel like they're different or feel like they don't belong. What's great about this guide is these are all toys they can play with alongside their siblings or their friends. These kids may learn in a different way but they're still a part of families and still a part of classrooms and we need to make sure they feel that way.
P: How do you plan to teach Camden and Brooklyn to be accepting and look past differences between themselves and other children?
NL: My parents were always very good about emphasizing that no matter who you come in contact with—no matter their race, their status in the economy, whether they are special needs—everyone is deserving of being treated with respect. That's something we teach Camden and we'll teach Brooklyn. Camden thankfully has been able to spend the last year in school and when you're put into a school you're automatically thrust into a situation where you're around so many different types of kids. It's been great for him to learn that everyone is deserving of being treated with respect. When you're a 2-year-old that means don't put your hands on them, you share your toys with them. Those lessons are good to teach at any age.
P: You recently opened Lachey's Bar with your brother and he has two kids. What is the cousin dynamic like?
NL: It's really cool. His youngest is a boy and my oldest is a boy. Huddy's 5 and Camden's almost 3, and Drew and my age separation was about 2 years and 9 months so they're roughly the same gap that he and I were. It's fun to watch their dynamic. They're at the point now where they can run around together and have fun together. And his oldest is 9, so she's getting into babysitting age. The biggest thing about moving back to Cinci, at least part time, and having houses next to each other is a chance to get those cousins together all the time and spend time together.
P: Even though Camden is your oldest it's almost like he has an older sibling.
NL: It really is. Huddy is the first one to knock him to the ground and whoop up on him a little bit, which I'm sure I did to Drew growing up. Drew's getting his little semblance of revenge here, next generation.
P: You travel a lot living in Cincinnati part-time, but in New York for "Big Morning Buzz." What do you do to carry a bit of your family with you wherever you go?
NL: With technology it's easier. When I was in New York I would wake up at 5:45 in the morning and click on the baby monitor and watch my kids sleeping. Whether it's getting my makeup done and watching Camden while he's sleeping or saying goodnight to him with Facetime, singing him to sleep, those things make it easier to be away. It still is hard, but it makes it a little easier to stomach. I have a dog tag that Vanessa gave me with Camden's birthdate on it and now with Brooklyn's birthdate on it. That's my little symbol that they're always with me. That's why I always wear it.
P: You released "A Father's Lullaby" for Camden about a year after he was born and you said you don't want to play favorites, so is there anything in the works for Brooklyn?
NL: I'm getting pressure from home and now on the phone! Gotta get this going. Let's be honest and I've thought about it. Nothing imminently planned but it would be something cool to do so maybe I'll have to get on that.
P: Is there a song when you are with her that seems to soothe her?
NL: It's funny because I've gotten so used to singing the song I wrote for Cam called "Sleepy Eyes" and I sing it to him every night to this day and I've already handed it down to her. I feel like maybe I've given her the raw end of the deal. I might have to write her her own, to your point.
P: I think just hearing dad's voice is probably nice.
NL: You like to think that if no one else in the world wants to hear you sing your kids still do. But no matter where you are in your career, that's the concert that matters the most: the one at the crib.
P: Now that you have two, how do you hope to cultivate closeness between Camden and Brooklyn and minimize rivalries?
NL: Maybe I'm overly hopeful with this but I feel given the fact that he's a boy and she's a girl the rivalry thing will be less so than if they were both girls or both boys. At least that's my hope. I've already started to tell Camden, "You always protect your little sister you want to look out for your sister." I think that as family it's all about love and respect. They're gonna be kids. They're gonna hit each other and steal each other's toys and that's sort of part of the fun of it in a sick way. At the end of the day, if you as a family teach respect, that will trickle down to the next generation.
P: What's one thing you want to do as a family before summer is done?
NL: We were fortunate to take a vacation to the beach so that was nice. We talked about going to Disneyland. Camden's very much into Mickey Mouse clubhouse He's at the age now where he really would have a blast with it. So we may see Disney on the agenda before we get back into the fall.
Related: Life, Love, and the Lacheys
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Ruthie Fierberg is an editorial assistant at Parents. Though she does not have children of her own, she's practically been raising kids since her first babysitting job at age 11. She is also our resident theater aficionado and has interviewed over 40 celeb parents. Follow her on Twitter @RuthiesATrain.