Patrick Dempsey on Why It’s 'Harder' Raising Teens Than Little Kids: ‘They Need to Make Mistakes’ (Exclusive)


In the years since he first won over hearts as “McDreamy” on , has become the ultimate family man.

As a dad to daughter Talula, 21, and 16-year-old twin sons Sullivan and Darby, with Dempsey, 57, says he’s “much better about being patient than I was in the past,” he tells PEOPLE in this week’s cover story.

“I mean that was the biggest challenge for me, dealing with the noise and the clutter but I’m a lot more tolerant now.”

Never miss a story — sign up for to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories. 


The actor, who will next star in the slasher film and the biopic , has also realized it’s “harder” raising teens than little kids.

“Because you need to be around, but they don’t want you around because they’re fighting for their independence, which they should,” he adds. “They need to find out how they interact in the world, they need to learn those boundaries, they need to make mistakes. And you need to be there for them and allow them to learn from that.”

The newly crowned Sexiest Man Alive now credits his sons, especially for keeping him on his toes. “They keep me very active,” he says. “I need to stay in shape to keep up with them.


The older you get, the more work you have to put in.”

In terms of his kids embracing his new title, Dempsey expected them to “just make fun of me and pick on me and figure out every reason why I shouldn’t be,” he says, laughing. “Which is good, they keep me young.”

When the actor first heard the news, he “was completely shocked, and then I started laughing, like, this is a joke, right? I’ve always been the bridesmaid!” he says. “I’d completely forgotten about it and never even contemplated being in this position.


So my ego is good.”

He’s even more grateful to have the platform to talk about the Dempsey Center, which he founded in honor of his late mom Amanda, who died in 2014 after a longtime battle with ovarian cancer. “We help people who have been impacted by cancer,” he says. “We don’t treat the disease, we treat the person and entire family at no cost in what is called wraparound care.”

As for his mom,  “I think she’d be proud,” he adds. “We founded it in 2008 and one of the things that kept her going was going into the Center. She would come in and talk to people who were newly diagnosed. There’s a lot of healing between both people in those moments.”

hits theaters on Nov. 17. will be out Christmas Day. For more information on the Dempsey Center, visit .