‘That’s Just Me Beating Myself Up’ (Exclusive): David Duchovny Says He’ll Always Feel 'Inadequate' as a Parent

When David Duchovny thinks about fatherhood, it’s with a healthy dose of humility

Published Time: 09.06.2024 - 15:31:17 Modified Time: 09.06.2024 - 15:31:17

When David Duchovny thinks about fatherhood, it’s with a healthy dose of humility.

During a recent interview with PEOPLE, the two-time Golden Globe winner discussed raising daughter West, 25, and Kyd, 21, whom he shares with ex-wife Téa Leoni.

“I'll always feel inadequate as a parent,” he says in this week’s issue. “Maybe I was a good parent, because my kids are great people, and they probably want to think of me as a good parent, too. They don't want to think of me as a failure. I'm sure I've done bad things, I'm sure I've made mistakes, but we all have. So, I try and give myself more of a break.”

When West and Kyd were growing up, Duchovny, 63, steadily worked, appearing in TV and film projects like Californication, for which he earned his second Golden Globe Award, his directorial debut House of D, The X-Filesrevival and the 2008 film The X-Files: I Want to Believe.

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He also found time to record three studio albums and write five books, one of which Duchovny adapted for the film Reverse the Curse, which premieres June 14. For the recently launched podcast, Fail Better, a production of Lemonada Media, he explores the concept of failure — and the lessons learned from it — with guests like Ben Stiller,Bette Midler and Sarah Silverman.

Juggling fatherhood and a successful career is a feat the actor is proud of.

“I was certainly working a lot when my kids were young," he says. "That's something I might have changed, but then again, it's also cool to model a person who -

's engaged with their life for a kid. It might not be the best thing to just devote your entire existence to your kid either, so it could go either way. ... I don't have access to the other road that could have been traveled. I just have the one that I did travel, so certainly not a perfect parent, but I love my kids. I love my kids so, so much.”

For more on David Duchovny, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday, or subscribehere.

As with most parents, his relationships with West and Kyd have evolved. At some point recently, the actor had an epiphany. While many parents justifiably wish only the best for their kids, Duchovny has a more nuanced perspective when it comes to his children’s lives.

“I realized I had wanted just smooth sailing for both of them and then I thought, ‘Well, that's a boring life,’ ” he acknowledges. “I should want great difficulty for them, I should want obstacles for them, I should want overcoming for them, I should want successes and failures for them. So I try — as everything I do has shown me — to show that the best things come from the hardest experience.”

Looking back over the last 25 years or so, Duchovny explains one of the most profound lessons learned has to do with the sort of love many parents have for their children.

“I felt unconditionally loved by my children … and I love them unconditionally,” he explains. “Just them being in the world has taught me that feeling from both sides, and I don't think there's anything deeper or more meaningful than that.”

Fail Better, a production of Lemonada Media, is available to stream on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

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