He’s “blossomed” as a father to 4-year-old Charli and Libby, due in April. So we sat down with Joey Lawrence and his wife, Chandie, to talk about raising little girls, pregnancy, and his new show!
Interview by Abigail Tuller
Photography by Samantha Berg
Styling by Rhonda Spies for Select Artist Management
Hair by Julio Hernandex for the[solo]project.net
Makeup by MakeUpByDavia.com
PREGNANCY: Chandie has Rh sensitization, so this is a high-risk pregnancy. What’s that been like?
CHANDIE: When we got the phone call saying “You’re high risk and you have to go and see a specialist,” we went into freak-out mode. When you go on the Internet, you get all this information that just terrifies you. I want to say to other women going through this: Yes, that information is out there, but don’t freak out and just automatically assume a worst-case scenario.
JOEY: It can be very scary, especially if it becomes serious—and it can very quickly. So we’ve been very lucky.
What’s involved in this particular condition?
CL: We see a specialist and monitor the baby through Doppler ultrasound. When we go to get the ultrasounds done, they monitor blood flow and brainwave activity to make sure the baby doesn’t start showing signs of anemia. I also have to go every few weeks and have blood drawn to test my antibody levels.
Has your birth plan changed the second time around?
CL: Charli’s birth was a dream; she even came on her due date! When we were done, I looked over at Joey and said, “That was it?” I’ll have an epidural, of course. Anyone who could go through that without an epidural….
JL: God bless ’em!
Joey, it looks like you’ll be out-numbered by the ladies in your house.
JL: It’s pretty neat. With boys, you’re able to go out and play football and rough around and if anyone gets upset, you can say, “C’mon, snap out of it!” But with a little girl, you’ve gotta sit down and talk about your feelings. Oh my goodness!
So having a daughter has taught you a few things about women?
JL: It’s really given me amazing insight into what makes women women, because you don’t know that so much when they’re 15 or 20 or 25. But being able to see one grow up from birth is really amazing. Girls are incredibly intuitive and sensitive.
And how is Joey as a dad to a daughter?
CL: I couldn’t imagine a man more suited! He’s so sensitive and so caring and so understanding and patient. We’ve known each other since we were 16, and I’ve got to basically see him grow up, as he has me. And to now see him with his daughter, it’s amazing.
Parenting is hard, isn’t it?
JL: It’s so much work! It’s incredible how much work it is. It’s the most rewarding thing you could ever do, but it never ends!
CL: My best friend told me, parenting is the hardest job you’ll ever love.
What are the challenges of raising kids in Hollywood?
JL: The way children grow up here is so far out of reality, but one kid’s reality is not another’s. Certainly when I was growing up, my reality wasn’t the same as my friends’ back in Pennsylvania. But the common thread is ethics and morals and decency, and knowing what is right and wrong. I grew up with my mom being hands-on, and we didn’t get away with anything. You had to be respectful and know your place. We had the freedom to be who we wanted to be, but at the same time, there were rules we had to follow.
What’s most important to you in parenting?
CL: I grew up in the South, so for me, there are certain things that were important to me when I grew up, like the “Yes, ma’ams” and the “No, ma’ams,” and just the common respect for elders.
JL: Charli’s got great manners. She’s incredibly sensitive. She says “Thank you” and “You’re welcome,” and if someone sneezes, “God bless you.” We tell her, “You can play with whatever you want, we’re going to have a great time, but when we’re done playing, the toys go away. And when you come into the house, take your shoes off and put them away.” Then you won’t have a big mess to clean up at the end of the day. Because we do that, it’s tremendous. She’s a totally free little spirit, but she knows she’s got to put her shoes away and when she’s done with her toys, she puts them away. If you try to get kids to clean it up when it’s a huge disaster, it’s overwhelming and they say, “I can’t do it, it’s too much!” It’s not a perfect science, but if the majority of the time it starts to sink in, then it’ll just become natural to them—like being a slob would become to somebody who’s allowed to leave their stuff everywhere.
Charli has quite an outgoing personality. Do you encourage that?
JL: She’s so outgoing and she’s got so much confidence, which is fantastic. I don’t ever want to hamper any of that, because that confidence is going to give her the ability to stand up for herself and not let people take advantage of her. Because she’s female, I worry about that. I don’t want her to be the little girl who the boys get to pick on at school. I want her to have the moxie to say, “Don’t do that! Don’t push me around!” So as a dad, that’s been my hardest job. There have been times when I get stern with her, but I don’t ever want to be domineering in any way. I want to make sure that she understands that it’s equal, that she’s on common ground. Just because I’m a guy doesn’t mean that she can’t speak her mind. We have talks, and she’s very confident.
CL: She also sees that Joey and I have a great relationship, too. We’re playful with each other and she enjoys seeing that, so it gives her the ability to just live free.
What’s next up in your career?
JL: My new sitcom, Melissa & Joey [with Melissa Joan Hart], will air on ABC Family this summer. In terms of the hours, it will be incredible to be home a lot, to be here to take care of my girls!