Jerry O’Connell: “I Want To Make Sure My Kids Have Gratitude”

Stand by Me star Jerry O’Connell posed for PEOPLE with 8-year-old daughters Dolly and Charlie and opened up about raising the twins with wife, model-actress Rebecca Romijn.

On raising the twins: “The first thing we try to do is just make them polite. I’m not even joking. That really goes a long way. When they meet people, looking them in the eye and greeting them. Saying their name. Saying thank you. Saying please. As simplistic as that sounds, it’s really important. It’s a great foundation to start from.”

On raising the twins in privilege: “After that, I want to make sure my kids have gratitude. They’re pretty privileged. We live in a beautiful suburb of Los Angeles. The craziest thing we have to deal with is traffic. I’ve looked into volunteering places and such, [but] my job is not nearly done yet. I want to make sure they have gratitude. I think if they understand that and I think if they have gratitude, I think a lot more will follow.”

On the twins enjoying the app Roblox: “I tell them, ‘You can’t chat with anybody on there.’ They’re like, ‘Oh, people are trying to talk to me.’ I’m like, ‘You can’t talk to any of them. Like, don’t make me watch Dateline with you. This is how it starts.’ ”

On Dolly Parton: “We said we named one of our daughters Dolly after Dolly Parton, and she sent both of our kids a $500 bond when they were born. She’s the best.”

On the twins growing up: “I have one daughter who’s boy crazy, who talks about boys all the time. I’m like, ‘Listen, you can do all that when I’m dead, when I die.’ I mean, she’s 8 and she’s like, ‘There’s this boy … ‘ I’m like, ‘Talk to your mom about it please. La la la. I don’t want to hear it.’ ”

On a Barbie-brand replica of himself, as part of PEOPLE’s campaign about dads and their daughters: “Is this for me to play with or my kids to play with? There we go. That’s me. [Pretending to play with it] ‘Remember kids, eat your protein and be polite. Always look [people] in the eye and say your name. Hi. Hi Mr. Cagle, nice to meet you.’ That is me.”

On growing up in a house full of boys: “I never had girls. That was all new to me. It still is new to me. Girls are, like … my daughters can get emotional. Maybe now I’ll talk to them through my new Mattel doll, the new Mattel Jerry doll,” he jokes. ” ‘Girls, tell me what you’re feeling. Tell Daddy doll what you’re feeling. How are you?’ “

For more from Jerry, go to PEOPLE

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