Zach Roloff‘s childhood wasn’t as easy as other kids.’
“I grew up with the name-calling,” the Little People, Big World star, 27, says in the current issue of PEOPLE of being born with achondroplasia, the most common form of dwarfism.
“I look at my childhood and being a boy on the farm, it was a little tough because boys are very alpha-doggy and follow the pack. I was always chasing the back and way behind the pack. It was tough,” he says.
(Males with the genetic condition grow an average height of 4’4″ with a normal lifespan, and babies may have breathing problems and delays in muscle development.)
Now that Roloff is a dad to a newborn with achondroplasia, he hopes his own childhood can help him parent his son, Jackson Kyle.
“You have to encourage a dwarf child a little more because it will take them five steps to do what others can do in two,” says Roloff. “But I knew, dwarf or not, I was going to parent my child with the mentality that not everyone gets a trophy. You have to earn it.”
- For more from Zach and Tori — including all about their love story and updates on the rest of the Roloff family — pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday
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“The world is changing. People are more open to diversity,” says the reality star and soccer coach, who hopes nothing will impede Jackson from achieving his dreams. “Whatever he wants to do, we’re going to find a way to help him do it. That’s our job in life now.”
He knows having achondroplasia will make Jackson’s life tougher, but “it’s part of the whole package of who he is. He’s happy and healthy. That’s all that matters.”