Luke Bryan on Raising Nephew Til After His Brother-in-Law’s Death: ‘We Woke Up and Had a Teenager in Our Midst’

09/29/2016 at 10:30 AM ET

Luke Bryan
Lester Cohen/Getty

Luke Bryan has learned a few important lessons about parenting a teenager — far sooner than he had expected.

The singer stepped up to care for nephew Til and nieces Kris and Jordan after the sudden death of Bryan’s brother-in-law in 2014. The children’s father had been raising his kids on his own following Bryan’s late sister’s death in 2007.

Bryan and his wife Caroline have since settled into life with 14-year-old Til, who now lives with the family in Nashville. The country crooner calls their blended group “a social experiment” — an “amazing” one, he notes.

“We woke up and had a teenager in our midst, but we love it,” Bryan tells PEOPLE. “It’s nothing but positive. Til is having a blast and I think he’s finally settled in being in Nashville.”

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But Bryan, who has two boys of his own with Caroline, Thomas “Bo” Boyer, 8, and Tatum “Tate” Christopher, 6, admits he’s had to navigate some tricky parenting waters sooner than he thought.

“We’re having to watch grades and watch Instagram and Snap Chat and keep him from being on that all day long,” he says. “It’s interesting because he’ll be a boy one minute and he’ll act like a man the next, so you just try to help him make good decisions and study hard and be respectful and try to do your best to raise them right.”

And Til is teaching his uncle a few things along the way. Chief among them? “Don’t wrestle a teen!” Bryan says with a laugh. “He throws me around the house pretty good now! He’s taller than me now and he can chuck me around pretty easily.”

Luke Bryan kids
Courtesy Luke Bryan

Bo and Tate, meanwhile, have learned a few new tricks from Til.

“They learn all the dances from him,” Bryan, who heads out on his eighth annual Farm Tour next month, says. “What is it? The Dab and all that. And the Nae Nae. He teaches them all that. They’re out there in the yard doing that when they score a touchdown.”

The singer, who’s known for some of his own moves, is quick to note that he won’t be adding the new dances to his stage repertoire.

“I try not to learn all that stuff!” he says. In fact, in the eyes of his teenage charge, “I’m spiraling toward more and more uncool as a dad now.”

— Eileen Finan

FILED UNDER: Country , Luke Bryan , News , Parenting

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Showing 13 comments

Brooke on

Nothing but the deepest respect for Luke & his wife. Such a selfless act. They are gorgeous children.

catfite on

Luke seems so genuine and down to earth. He and his family are what kids should look up to these days.

j on

This article was rather confusing and left out pertinent info. Til’s (Tilden) mother, Kelly, was Luke’s sister and she passed in 2007. His brother-in-law passed in 2014. I have no idea where his two nieces came from… I got the other info from Wiki. The picture above is of the 5 kids together.

Nunya on

Jordan, Kris and Til all came from Lee and Kelly. Kelly passed away in 2007 and Lee passed in 2014.

Lilly Cohen on

Reply to J:
Luke’s sister and brother-in-law had 3 children (Til and his 2 sisters). When they both died, Til wen to live with Luke, his wife and 2 boys. Til’s sisters probably went to live with other relatives. Whatever the case, it’s bittersweet in that their parents are gone, but there are relatives that will provide a loving and safe home for these children.

Taylor on

To the commenter who was confused… Luke’s sister Kelly and her husband had three children: Kris, Jordan, Til. Kelly died in 2007 and her husband raised the children on his own. He then died in 2014. The two girls are older and out of the house (I know one is in college, they might both be). But Til is younger and still in school so Luke and Caroline took him in.

LeeToo on

@Taylor … thanks for the clarification! People should hire you. 🙂

Anonymous on

How did the 39 year old brother in law die?

Anonymous on

His sister was 39 when she passed away and the brother-in-law was 46 when he died from a heart attack.

Lyt on

His sister was 39 at the time of her death and the brother-in-law was 46 when he died of a heart attack.

Karen on

I admire Luke and Caroline so much. This is family at it’s best.

Tee on

I simply echo other comments. SO much respect for Luke and his wife. THIS is what family is about and our world would be a much better place if we would simply take care of our own.

Lili on

Wow, how refreshing to see such positive comments for a change! I love Luke. I believe he has had a lot of tragedy in his life, yet he always seems to be positive and smiling. Truly good people!