Welcome to So Mini WaysYahoo Life’s parenting series on the joys and challenges of child rearing.
When Joey Fatone’s first daughter, Briahna, was born in 2001, the singer was still touring with boy band NSYNC.
“I was younger and was trying to feed my kid,” Fatone tells Yahoo Life. “The first steps and things like that, I didn’t get to witness.”
The second time around, when his daughter Kloey was born in 2010, Fatone says he was able to be more present.
“I wasn’t working as much as I used to travel,” says the 45-year-old. “I really got more hands-on with it.”
Fatone says his parenting style changed again in 2019, when he got divorced from actress Kelly Baldwin after 15 years of marriage.
“It’s a little different once you get divorced,” he shares. “Now you’re on your own, per se. My advice for single parents, especially, is patience. That and, ‘Don’t do it!'”
“I’m kidding,” he says, “but people really don’t understand the negatives. People don’t understand that you have to take your kid here and there and you can’t just go out and party. t understand that parents have a responsibility and they can’t just throw it away, especially when they’re on their own with their kids. “
When it comes to parenting two girls, Fatone says he and Baldwin started building an open line of communication with their daughters early on.
“I never had a live-in nanny,” says Fatone. “Normally a person of my stature would have a live-in nanny. We had babysitters, but we never had live-in nannies because guess what happens? When somebody gets hurt, who do they go to? Not Mommy. Not Daddy. The nanny. “
Fatone believes that strategy worked: His daughters, now 20 and 11, still come to him to talk about everything from homesickness while traveling to more intimate concerns.
“I could write a freakin ‘book,” he jokes. “I was there the first time my little one had her ‘womanly shower,’ we will say, and that was a surprise to me and the comedy that evolved was having two iPads with my wife and my other daughter FaceTiming with my little one because it was me by myself.
“I didn’t know how to put the pad on the panties and fold it under with the sticky part,” he explains. “Picture that one: She calls me in the bathroom and I walk in and there’s blood – I didn’t know what to do.
“Mostly women are the ones who talk to their daughters about this,” he adds. “I have two daughters and when I have them, Mommy’s not around, so how do I deal with that?”
The singer and TV host, who spoke with Yahoo Life as part of his work promoting his Fatone Calzone sandwich with Schlotzsky’s, says whatever the topic, he’s learned to be as truthful with his girls as possible.
“My older one asked me once about the birds and the bees, so I kind of gave her the explanation,” he recalls. “Of course my ex was like, ‘Did you tell her she could die? She could get diseases? She could get AIDS?’ I was like, ‘No, first let’s tell her about the better things about it and then we can tell her why you’ve got to be careful.’ “
Still, Fatone says parenting girls is not for the faint of heart.
“It sucks because they’ve got your heart,” he says. “It’s bad news. That whole ‘daddy’s girl’ thing rings true.”
Fatone has a long love of cooking, having made an appearance on Food Network’s Chopped All-Stars and hosted My Family Recipe Rocks on the Live Well Network. Food is an important part of his parenting style, too.
“Italian cooking and our love of food went on from generation to generation,” Fatone says, crediting his dad for teaching him how to make family recipes like meatballs, marinara sauce and arancini – fried rice balls.
“I love to cook. Because it’s exciting,” he says. “I try to come out of my comfort zone and do different things, especially when I’m with my kids. It forces you to go, ‘OK what do I have in my kitchen now? What can I do?’ And it helps them figure out what they like. “
So what advice does Fatone, who says he’ll change his name on social media to Joey Calzone for the month of February to celebrate his role of Italian ambassador to Schlotzsky’s, have for other dads?
“I’d tell any dad out there to really enjoy it,” he says. “Embrace the fun things, the silly things, the heartfelt things. Embrace it all because that’s how you navigate through life. And then as you get older, when these things come around a second time, you’ll know how to handle them. “
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