John O’Hurley: I’ve Become a ‘Vigilant’ Dad

02/25/2014 at 11:00 AM ET

John O'Hurley Full Sail University Hall of Fame Rob Kim/Getty

When John O’Hurley became a dad in 2006, things changed for him overnight.

“Fatherhood definitely softened my edges,” he told PEOPLE while attending the Full Sail University Hall of Fame Ceremony. “It gave me a new purpose.”

But now that his 7-year-old son, William Dylan, is old enough to understand the world around him, O’Hurley, 59, says that his edges are becoming sharper again.

“I am now much more vigilant about things that I would have let slide before I had a son. Because I am a father, I am much angrier at what I see in the world, the injustices and bad behavior,” he says.

“Before I had a son, I may not have even noticed them, but when I see things through his eyes, I get angry at them.”

He continues, “I don’t accept things that I used to accept before. I believe this very strongly: you define yourself not by what you will say yes to, but what you will say no to. So yes, I’m a vigilant dad.”

Relaxing backstage with PEOPLE at the event, O’Hurley said that he’s in a great spot in his life and career.

“I have been blessed to have so many wonderful things happen to me, but no matter what happens, I am always recognized for being on Seinfeld,” he explains. “It doesn’t matter what else I do; that’s how people know me. I love that.”

Next up for O’Hurley: a touring production of Chicago, which opens in the Windy City on Tuesday.

“I love being on stage,” he says. “I’ve played Billy Flynn in Chicago more than 1,000 times, and it never, ever gets old to me.”

And when he’s not on stage, there’s a lot of work to do at home. “I have the responsibility of looking down my son’s path and making sure I’ve cleared as much as I possibly can for him,” he says. “That’s my job.”

— Steve Helling

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Caasi on

I agree with John…the world seems to be a much scarier place to grow up in now. I don’t know if it was always this way, and social media has made it seem scarier, or if people’s consciousness of our surroundings has just gotten so low…..

Paula on

As a teacher, I believe that many of our kids’ difficulties taking responsibility and being accountable for their own behavior stems from parents who clear their path for them. Let them clear it! They can do it (and will, if we let them).

Susan on

I know this will be tough for John given the nature of his business, but the first thing should be to strictly limit TV, and talk about the lack of morality in media. The second is, (assuming his child is bright), to be ready to heavily supplement his education. In our quest in education to “even things out and eliminate barriers”, I’ve found much of it dumbed down for a lot of bright, engaged kids. But I’m sure he’ll opt for private, and he’ll be ok. Those two things alone will prepare him to pave his own way!

Curious on

Mr. O’Hurley, would you be interested in sharing your views with the Steve Harvey Mentoring Program? The organization is doing great things to help mold little boys into GREAT men as you are doing with your own son. He maybe able to forge associations and friendships with other little boys whose parents are equally interested in making change in world to avoid the injustices that you see. It’s worth investigating, right? Fight on!

Linda on

I had no idea he was a vigilante.

Pam on

I agree. I think about all the bad stuff in the world much more now that I have a child. My son’s name is Dylan John, I love it! His son’s William Dylan and his name is John. I love the name Dylan and we gave him the middle name John to honor my husband’s late father.

Tina on

This world is much scarier because of the all the social media sh** out there and the stupid, uneducated, untalented ‘artists’ (ahem, Miley) who only know how to twerk to sell albums (and the stupid people who buy them). No one knows how to spell, speak properly or respect others, especially children. It all stems from no attention from the parents at home. Sick world.

susan schweitzer on

The most handsome man on TV!

Kit on

He is 59 years old. His son is only at 7. Good for him!

Angie on

Great actor. Much respect for him.