Brandon Jenner is a proud father and a proud son.
The musician — and Caitlyn Jenner‘s second oldest son — released his debut solo album, Burning Ground, earlier this month.
PEOPLE caught up with Jenner, 35, ahead of the release of his hopeful new “I Believe” music video; the singer opened up about his life as a dad to daughter Eva James, how Caitlyn’s transition affected their family dynamic and more.
Brandon: I think that anybody that has a child knows what I’m talking about when I say that it’s extreme; it’s life-changing. You are taught a selflessness and you’re shown a selflessness that is scary in the beginning because you realize that your needs do not matter as much to yourself: My own hunger and my own tiredness, they become secondary to the needs of somebody else.
It’s a scary and difficult feeling at first, but you learn so much from that and through that. Having a child is not easy in the beginning — most parents will tell you that — but the rewards far outweigh the difficulties, and you grow as a person so much.
I am truly grateful for the empowering inspiration that it’s given me, having a daughter. It encourages me to be truer to myself, speak my mind, stand up to the people who I love and really set a good example for her.
Be kind to everybody that you meet. There’s a handful of rules that I try to live by in my life that are based around treating others with respect, and I hope that she does the same. I hope I’m able to lead by example.
PEOPLE: What’s the cutest thing she’s done lately?
Brandon: She’s officially transformed from a baby to a kid! And it’s a great, great thing. She imitates everything that I do. We were walking around my house and I picked up a stick, and I was using it as a walking stick, and I turned around, and she’s got a stick, walking with it as a walking stick! I just couldn’t believe it. Everything I’m doing, she’s imitating. She just watches me and her mom — we’re her world. If we cough, she coughs right after us.
It’s amazing how they learn through imitation. It’s no wonder that people resemble their parents, not just in the way they look but in their manners, the way they act, because we really start out as imitators. It’s a rewarding feeling.
PEOPLE: In terms of your parenting philosophy, who do you take cues from?
Brandon: We’ve gotten a lot of advice from people whose lifestyles we really look up to and really respect, and all of that information is great. But also I think it’s really important to follow your instincts. Most of the time, my and Leah’s instincts are in line with each other’s, and they’re very strongly to act a certain way or behave a certain way or treat Eva in a certain way, and I think that’s the best, most pure guide.
These instincts have been built into us for millennia and I think that’s definitely the best. That’s what I tell new parents, too, when they ask advice, I say, “Gather as much information as you can, you can make educated decisions about things, but never forget to really trust your instincts and value them.”
PEOPLE: Your father publicly came out as transgender last year. Have you and Leah discussed how you’re going to talk to Eva about Caitlyn’s transition one day?
Brandon: I’m super, super proud of Caitlyn, and I know that she will be one day, too. At this age, she knows Caitlyn as “Boom Boom.” When she sees Caitlyn, she goes, “Boom Boom!” and jumps up and gives her a big hug and a kiss. Eva sees Boom Boom as a family member. It makes me very happy, but it feels very natural.
My dad, Caitlyn, is in a much better place now. I feel like I’m really able to connect with this person. For most of my life, I think there was always something missing a little bit; we were not spending a lot of time together, and when we did spend time, maybe not getting to know exactly who the person was. I feel like Caitlyn is very fulfilled, I’m very fulfilled in the relationship, and Eva is just stoked to have another grandparent. That’s really it — that’s as simple as it is.
As it should be! I believe that all the colors that we are born with are natural. There’s nothing unnatural about every color of individual out there, whether it’s orientation, identity, sexuality, whatever it is, these are all natural occurrences. If we embrace it as such, then all the rest of the stuff fits together perfectly because it is natural. And the relationship that Eva and my dad have and the relationship that Caitlyn and I have is awesome and better than it’s ever been.
Jenner’s new album, Burning Ground, is now available to download on iTunes.