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Taye Diggs: Actor, Parent, Author

The talented Diggs opens up about fatherhood, working out, and his new kids' book.
By Lauren Paige Kennedy
WebMD the Magazine - Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

You're a father to a 3-year-old son. What words of wisdom can you offer parents struggling with the "terrible twos"?

We're just coming off a night where Walker woke up at 5 a.m. and wouldn't go back to sleep. It's not for the faint of heart! I'd say sleep before you have any young ones. But it's a wonderful project in life, trying to raise this other person. He can be a buddy, then we're mentoring him, then he's teaching us.

Are you and your wife, Idina Menzel, who stars on Fox's "Glee," big on bed- and bath-time routines for Walker, or do you favor a more relaxed approach?

We're both. We like to set up parameters, then every once in a while stray from them. Everything in moderation. That's what's most natural and what makes the most sense for us.

At 41, how has fatherhood changed you? Do you approach your work or your life differently now?

Before Walker was born, my heart belonged to Idina. I thought I knew what love was. After he was born, it felt as if I grew another heart. It's a type of love I had no idea I was capable of, and there are times when it's unsettling because it's made me feel more vulnerable than ever before. If anything happened to this little guy ... I literally can't even [allow] the thought to enter my head. I tailspin. I'm a lot nicer to my mom now. If my son treats me the same way I treated my mother in the past, I'll be heartbroken! At some point he's not going to want to hang out with me -- and it just kills me.

How did your mom instill self-esteem in you and lay the groundwork for your new children's book, "Chocolate Me!"?

I wouldn't be performing if not for her, or have written the book. She made it known to me at a very early age that I needed to have a strong sense of self, regardless of what others might think. Kids at school, they tell you how you should be, dress, talk -- it never felt right. Mom would say, "You stick to what you do -- you're going to be great." Both of my parents instilled that in me. And already we're starting that with Walker.

The book, which focuses on celebrating diversity, is inspired by a poem you wrote in college, right?

It was a poem based upon an event that happened when I was 5 or 6 years old. I wrote it during a very reflective stage. Then I put it away for years. My best friend from childhood, illustrator Shane W. Evans, remembered me writing that poem and thought it would make a great children's book. He was already an established illustrator, so working with him involved going into the deal with publishers, contracts, and all that.

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