Craig Melvin Reveals the Top Parenting Tip He’s Learned from 'Today' (Exclusive)

Craig Melvin on 'Today.'

Craig Melvin wants to share a not-so-shocking secret about the Today show anchors: When they’re not talking to each other on the air, they’re talking even more off it.

“We’re sitting there each morning for hours on end!” says Melvin, 44, who’s been on the NBC morning news show since 2018 and co-hosts the 3rd Hour of Today. “But we don’t talk to each other about the news. We talk about our families, what we did that weekend, and what we’re doing that night. Our interests are so different.”

A hot discussion topic: Books. Savannah Guthrie recently wrote one about her faith; Jenna Bush has a popular book club; and Hoda Kotb has a new children’s book (and talked about it for a Parade cover story). “I think it’s a function of interviewing people who write them,” he adds. “We’re all exposed to the ecosystem and so we get all these ideas. Carson [Daly] wants to start a books and bourbon club but the showrunners said no!”

Now Melvin, whose own memoir, Pop: Learning to Be a Son and Father, was released in 2021, has started a new literary chapter and written a children’s book. Titled I’m Proud of You (out May 7), the illustrated work describes all the ways a parent expresses fulfillment out of watching their children succeed.

I'm Proud of You<p>HarperCollins</p>
I'm Proud of You


Melvin himself is the father to son Del, 10, and Sibby, 8 (with wife of 12 years, sports anchor Lindsay Czarniak). Declaring “I love you” to them is a given, he says, but he didn’t hear “I’m proud of you” enough growing up in South Carolina. “I wanted to show how you can say it in ways big and small,” he adds.

Related: Hoda Kotb Is the Reason for Daughter Haley's 'Best Field Trip' Ever

Melvin says a lot more from his Rockefeller Center office in this exclusive interview with Parade.

Mara Reinstein: Is it too early to ask about Father’s Day plans this year?

Craig Melvin: I have to get through Mother’s Day! Last year we all had a nice low-key dinner and enjoyed a round of golf as a family. You’ve got to start them young so when I’m old and feeble I have got two built-in golfing buddies.

What did your kids think of the book?

Well, my son loved it because it’s a book with someone who looks like him on the cover. And my daughter also really liked it, but didn’t love it as much because of that. But as I pointed it out to her, she’s literally on every page of the book except one or two.

Have you picked up a lot of parenting tips on the job? It seems like there’s an expert on every morning.

Oh, yeah. I mean, one of the best parts of the show is you get to pick up so much by osmosis, whether it’s cooking hacks or new movies coming out. Just this morning, we had an exclusive on the recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics regarding screen time. I was like, ‘Oh I need to listen up here.’ And years ago, we had a guest who talked about the importance of how to talk to your children at different ages. One of the recommendations was to keep them talking. Even just small talk. There’s a direct correlation between the sheer number of words a child speaks and being successful later in life.

Related: 'Today’s Hoda Kotb, Savannah Guthrie and More Seen in Emotional Backstage Footage

Craig Melvin<p>NBC</p>
Craig Melvin


So how do you talk to your kids?

I’ve picked up a lot of tools over the years as a journalist. I ask open-ended questions and follow-ups. I don’t hurry them in conversation. My wife and I decided early on to cultivate curiosity, and it’s served us well.

There’s a news feed on your TV in your background right now. Is it hard to shake off the day when you get home?

I do a much better job than I used to. But a part of the job is getting up to speed with what’s happening with the world around us, so I’m frequently plugged in. But what’s funny is that my son is 10 and in the fourth grade and has a lot of questions about the war in Ukraine and is asking about what’s happening in the Middle East. So we encourage them to ask questions. I mean, my kid’s name is Delano after FDR. It’s a family name. We come from a long line of folks who have been interested in the news. My wife’s dad was the executive editor of USA Today.

Is that why the 3rd Hour is so fun? It’s usually a change of pace from the hard news.

The third hour is probably the most fun I have every day with people I’m not related to. It’s just like I’m hanging out with my buddies. We’ve known each other for so long and our kids are of similar ages. We hang out outside of work. Without naming names, there have been times in the history of the show when they had to fake it. It was obvious the people behind the desk weren’t talking to each other. But we’re friends ‘IRL,’ as the kids call it.

So you all really do spend time with each other out of the office?

I call it the ministry of presence. We live in a time where I think we can convince ourselves that certain things are intimate and real. They’re not. But if I can reach out and touch you and hug you, that’s real. That’s been the case for a number of years. We all just went together to the White House Correspondents Dinner last weekend. I’ve been up to Savannah’s place in New York. My son loves Al Roker. It’s always a great time, and I love it.

Next, Hoda Kotb and Savannah Guthrie Reflect on Getting Cut From a Popular TV Show