David Beckham was just shy of 24 years old when he welcomed his first child, and in the two decades since, he’s learned a few lessons about parenthood.

The retired soccer star and his wife, Victoria Beckham, have four children ― Brooklyn, Romeo, Cruz and Harper. In honor of his birthday, we’ve rounded up 12 honest parenting quotes from Beckham.

On Worrying

“I don’t think anything prepares you for the constant worry. When you have kids, from the moment they’re born you’re constantly thinking, ‘Are they OK?’ You go and check them every single night five or six times and I still do the same now, even to my 19-year-old.”

On Watching Kids Grow Up

“[T]ime goes by really fast. One minute you’re holding them in hospital for the first time and then, the next minute, they’re driving their car. But it’s the most special thing, I would never change anything.”

On The Power Of Parenting

“Being present with your child, that’s the greatest gift that you can give to any child, your attention.”

On Learning As A Parent

“I’m still learning new things about fatherhood every day. You never stop learning. I was 24 when I had Brooklyn. Four kids now and nearly 20 years of experience as a father, and you never stop learning.”

On Late Nights

“My favorite time when I look back from day one with my sons and with, obviously, my daughter, each parent talks about the waking up during the night and the feeding during the night but, for me that was the most special time. It doesn’t matter what time of the night it is or how tired you are, they make you smile, they make you happy.”

On His Parenting Style

“We have always led by example, in terms of the way we treat our children, with the way we look after our children, the way we love our children. But we are very strict parents. We want to bring them up as closely as possible to how we were brought [up], because you have to give them manners, you have to give them boundaries and our children definitely have that.”

On Being A Young Parent

“Obviously, Victoria and I had Brooklyn at a very young age. But I always wanted that, because I wanted my kids to live through my career with me ― through the highs and obviously a couple of lows along the way. I always wanted that. And I think you mature quicker with kids. You have more important things in life to worry about than your everyday worries, and life becomes all about the kids. I think that’s what you learn as a father, you become less important and it’s all about your children.”

On Quality Time

“I didn’t want to miss a second, but of course there were times that I couldn’t be there. I feared they would do something for the first time and I wouldn’t be there to see it. … I knew that spending as much quality time with my kids as I could, especially when they were young, was the most important thing in the world.”

On Teaching Work Ethic

“I still learn from my parents, I still watch them, they still guide me. And I’ve tried to do the same with my children. Because they do have a different upbringing to what I had. But the work-ethic still has to come from the parents. … The reason I finished my career at 38 years old and continued to work as hard as I do now is because I want to set the right example. I want to show my kids that now after dad’s main, first part of his life and the first part of his career, he still continues to work hard. That’s what I want them to learn.”

On Big Emotions

“There are many emotions that run through us when we think about our children. But for me and for the many dads and mums I’ve spoken to about parenting over the years, it comes down to two things ― love and fear. It is these emotions that push us to achieve more for our children, every day.”

On Discipline

“No more than an hour [of TV time]. I know that sounds pretty harsh, but I want my boys to be outside playing. It’s so important to me that they’re involved in sports ― for discipline and health. [Brooklyn] is pretty skillful. My middle one, Romeo, is the quick one; he’s super fast. The small one, [Cruz], is the tough one, of course ― being the smallest boy. Me and Victoria were brought up with strong discipline by our parents and to have respect for people and our boys have definitely got that. They’ve been saying their please and thank-yous since they were 2 or 3 years old. They’re very polite boys.”

On How He Wants To Be Remembered

“Just as a hard-working father that loved his kids and would do anything for them.”

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