Ian Ziering has played many roles in his lifetime. From his fame-wielding role as Steve Sanders on the ’90s sensation 90210 to his current gig as the man-eating land-sharks’ worst enemy Fin Shepard in the Sharknado franchise, Hollywood couldn’t prepare him for the most demanding yet rewarding job of his life: becoming a parent.
“Being a dad is the best role I’ve ever had, something that I’ve wanted to be for as long as I can remember,” Ian explains to us. “I always wanted to be a young dad. I thought I would have three kids by the time I was 30. I thought I would marry my high school sweetheart. Didn’t really play out that way.”
In 2011 Ian welcomed his first daughter, Mia Loren, now 5, with wife Erin Ludwig, and two years later they welcomed another little girl, Penna Mae.
“I didn’t have my first child until I was 46. But the excitement, the anticipation, the energy, it’s all still there. I’ve been saving it,” he says.
The actor discusses parenting issues like bedwetting and potty training, and reveals where in the world Steve Sanders ended up, in this exclusive interview with Babble.
On how playing a dad on 90210 didn’t prepare him for the real deal of parenting …
“Are you kidding me? Playing a dad on television, you don’t even scratch the surface because you go home and don’t have to deal with any of the parenting responsibilities. I didn’t learn anything about parenting from any set. What I learned about parenting was passed down to me from my parents and also from my friends who had kids themselves.”
On dealing with bedwetting issues with his 3-year-old daughter …
“There were no GoodNites pants when I was a kid. I would wake in the middle of the night and it was horrible. I didn’t want my parents to find out. I didn’t want my brothers to find out. They would bust my chops to no end. I would scramble and try to change the sheets at night. I would wake up in the morning embarrassed and ashamed.
I didn’t want that experience to be similar for my 3-year-old. I wanted her to sleep comfortably at night. I didn’t want her to go to sleep worried like I did. Now we found a way to manage this issue quite nicely. Penna wakes up confident, doesn’t go to sleep worried. It’s a complete non-issue. I think that’s what’s important for people to know.
One in six kids from 4 to 12 deal with nighttime wetting. It’s a natural occurrence. It’s a developmental process. I just wanted to create a situation where I can raise my kids learning from the experiences that I had. To make their growth as worry-free as possible.”
On how his oldest daughter Mia was “housebroken” before she was potty trained …
“We have dogs in our home and we have a dog door so they can go outside and take care of themselves. When Mia was 1, she saw the dog go out and do his business. One morning my wife and I were having breakfast and Mia gets up and goes through the dog door herself and goes outside and takes a pee in the garden. We had a good laugh because ‘okay, this is a milestone here!’
Next it was working toward the potty training. Through every stage we try and be as encouraging and supporting as possible trying not to play up whatever issue it is so the kids can be productive. It frees up their mind to be more creative, to be more independent, which is really so important.”
Ian’s top three parenting tips …
1. “Use the GoodNites pants because they are awesome.
2. Look out for number one, but don’t step in number two. (Quote from the Rodney Dangerfield movie Back to School.)
3. Be present. Just be there for your kids, it’s the best time in life. Time is the most expensive thing I own so I don’t like to waste a minute of it. Any chance I get to be proactive and be with my kids, I take advantage of it. It’s the best part of life.”
On what his 90210 character, Steve Sanders, is doing now …
“I think Steve Sanders is currently living in the cloud forest of Costa Rica where he is the personal life coach of the world’s most interesting man. He has one kid, Maddie (that he knows of!) that he and his lovely wife Janice share together.”