Daniel Cosgrove has become well-known for his acting roles in soap operas such as Days of Our Lives, All My Children, and Guiding Light. But many people may not know that he and his wife Marie have been married for 19 years and have four children: Lily, 16, Esme, 13, Ruby, 11, and Finnian, 7.
Most recently, Cosgrove signed on to participate in a new series that allows him to be both on a TV show and with his children. The new series, Project Dad, follows Cosgrove as well two other celebrity dads — comedian Donnell Rawlings and musician DJ Skribble — as they take on the role of both mom and dad while their partners are away for a few days.
We spoke with Cosgrove to learn more about juggling an acting career and fatherhood, the benefits of co-parenting, and his best advice for new dads.
Balancing a demanding career and a growing family can be difficult for any parent, but it's even tougher when your job requires you to travel as much as Cosgrove does. He and his wife Marie grew up on the East Coast, so they decided to raise their four children in Connecticut. As an actor, that means Cosgrove spends a lot of time traveling back and forth across the country to California. He juggles his career and fatherhood by ensuring that when he's with his kids, he's really with them.
"That's one of the toughest things to do — to be away. So when I'm home and with the kids, I try to be as present as possible because I know that time goes by so quickly. It moves so fast, and I try not to take it for granted," Cosgrove told A Plus. "I just try to participate the best I can."
Marie is the logistics person of the family and Cosgrove often relies on her to keep him abreast of all the responsibilities that need to be covered. However, it's important to him that they both share the responsibility of raising their kids together and that each parent is involved with their children's lives.
"Once I became a parent, it just became apparent to me that this is a love like no other. To me, there's no greater responsibility. There's just no greater joy," Cosgrove said. "As an adult, it's amazing how some things can stick with you. It could be big events or it could be subtle little things that happen when you're a little one that will have some sort of impact later in life. So, early on I knew with my first child, Lily, that everything she saw, everything she heard, the tone of what she heard, how she saw me communicate with her mom, was affecting her. These early years are so important and I try to always remember that."
With the help of his wife, Cosgrove hopes to give all of his children the values he thinks they need to succeed in life.
"Give them the foundation to help them be compassionate, empathetic, loving, caring, creative souls who want to participate in the world community, so when they’re off on their own and they have to make choices, the foundation that you give them will be one where they'll make better choices. That's really our hope."
Fatherhood is filled with challenges that keep dads wondering if the way they're raising their kids is the best way. To help cope with some of these challenges, Cosgrove takes the time to reflect every day.
"It's a daily thing of re-calibrating and knowing what's the most important thing in your life and just doing the best you can," he said. "I reflect at the end of the night to help me become a better person, a better father, a better husband."
Luckily, Cosgrove also learns a lot from his kids.
"They teach me every day," he said. "My oldest daughter is 16. In so many ways, she's just so beyond me. And that's the goal. I want my kids to go so beyond me. I don't want them to have the same hang ups and anxieties that I had. I want them to have confidence."
Two years ago, Cosgrove came across author Susan Cain's TED Talk on introverts. After showing his oldest daughter who felt that Cain's words accurately described her and her sisters' personalities, Cosgrove purchased and read the book.
"I'm a father of introverts. I want to learn a little bit about what it's all about. As I'm reading this book, I'm like, 'Holy good Lord, this is me,' " he said. "You never stop learning as a father. I [was] reading this book and realizing that all this anxiety I was feeling and why I was uncomfortable in all of these situations — there's a reason I'm who I am. There's a reason and there's a community that's like me.
Cosgrove ended up learning something really fundamental about himself because he took the time to learn more about his children, their personalities, and their interests.
"Really talk with your children and learn who they are, you can really know how to engage with them more deeply on a deeper level and really prepare them for the world."
"Don't try to throw just your interests at them. They may have different interests [that reflect] who they are."
It's not uncommon for new dads to be nervous about raising daughters, so we asked Cosgrove about any advice he has after raising three.
"I never would want to sound preachy at all, but the role we play will have such an impact on the little girls, our daughters, who will go out and seek friends and get in relationships later in life. It's how they see you interact with whoever your partner is. It matters," he said. "If you're going to bring a little being in this world, you have to step up and take on that responsibility. Don't just expect magic to happen, because it happens at home first."
Cosgrove hopes that his participation in Project Dad and the way they see him interact with his kids will inspire audiences to take more time to bond with their own.
"If it has that sort of effect, I'd love to hear that," he said. "That would be wonderful."
Both A Plus and Project Dad are brought to you by Chicken Soup for the Soul.