For the past 25 years, the Backstreet Boys have acclimated to a life of fame, fortune and endless screaming fans. But as they prepare for this fresh wave of fame with a new world tour and tenth studio album, the iconic pop stars are hitting the road a little differently than before – with their families and kids in tow!
“We have a family room backstage for the family and the wives and the kids to hang out in,” Kevin Richardson , 47, tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. “It used to be the VIP room, stocked with alcohol for our friends and different people that come to see the show, but now it’s the family room.”
“It’s the VIB room, Very Important Baby,” jokes the band’s youngest member, Nick Carter. “It’ll be daddy daycare.”
During the height of their fame in the late ’90s, the boys quickly adjusted to stardom and, at one point, fell victim to the pitfalls of fame and success.
“You have moments of huge success, and I think we all, when we first had some success, we all went through a little bit of ego, you know, the big head, but we had the five of us to keep our egos in check, because we were the only ones that could do that,” says Richardson.
But as they continued to evolve individually and as a group, the guys soon realized there was much more to life.
“We got a little jaded, but having our own families gives you those goosebumps all over again,” says Howie Dorough, 45. “Our kids are amazing. They share their daddies with the world. Fatherhood has taught all of us to slow down and be more selfless.”
McLean, the only band member with daughters, admits he’s “completely outnumbered,” but wouldn’t want it any other way.
“There’s nothing like a relationship between a daughter and a father,” McLean says of his daughters Ava Jaymes, 6, and Lyric, 20 months, whom he shares with his wife, Rochelle. “They both have me wrapped around their finger.”
McLean, who has been open about his struggle with addiction, adds, “Hopefully we’ve all learned the do’s and don’ts by now, so we can guide them through.”
As the youngest member of the group, Carter was the last of the boys to become a father.
Carter and his wife Lauren welcomed their son, Odin Reign, in April 2016.
“Words can’t explain how blessed I am to have him, my wife, and my group,” he says. “They’ve helped me be a great father.”
He adds, “We’re all influences on each other. You see how much fun they’ve been having with being dads, and you get a little older and you start to change. Obviously things are different than what they were before and so therefore, I wanted a little bit of what they had. And of course when you find an incredible woman who can be a great mother that makes everything different.”
In 2006, Richardson took a six-year hiatus to start a family.
“I’ve always wanted to be a dad,” he says. “I couldn’t wait to be a dad. I just think it’s making me see things and rediscover things again with fresh eyes, you know, seeing it through their eyes, traveling around the world, taking them places, seeing them see things for the first time helps me experience it again for the first time.”
Richardson who shares sons Mason, 11, and Maxwell, 5, with wife Kristin, says he’s “learning about myself.”
“They’re a great reflection of you, the good things and the bad things,” he says. “They teach me a lot.
After the death of his father in 2008, Dorough felt that he “needed to do something that was not only just about myself,” and his wife, Leigh, agreed.
“I think kids really taught us there’s more to life than just always trying to achieve that next goal, that next gold record, that next platinum record, that next award,” he says. “There’s awards within having normalcy and I think kids have taught us to all be able to take a step back, to slow down a little bit to be able to find a good balance in life.”
Now dad to James, 9, and Holden, 5, Dorough says fatherhood is his biggest blessing.
“It’s amazing to be able to have that balance now intertwining them in with us to be able to go do our work but then at the same time take some downtime and enjoy family time,” he says.
As the first Backstreet Boys dad, Littrell, 43, says he feels for his bandmates who are just now getting thrown into responsibilities of fatherhood.
“It’s a stressful time to have young kids and manage a career,” he says. “But we live and we learn and we also are able to talk about those experiences and help one another too.
Now, Littrell — who shares 16-year-old son Baylee with his wife of 22 years, Leighanne — says he has one goal in mind.
“When you have one of your own, it’s a lot on your shoulders,” he admits. “You want to be able to carry that weight, set a good example, and still do what my dad did. Provide, work hard for your family, be that security, that provider, the goal setter, the visionary that is in charge of the family, that guides everybody.”
“Life is exactly where we want it to be,” he adds. “I hope that I can always be my son’s hero. It doesn’t really matter that I’m a pop star. You can call me what you want, but I just want to be my son’s hero.”
For more on the Backstreet Boys and their families, as well as their upcoming album and tour, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.