Fixer Upper's Chip and Joanna Gaines talk to PEOPLE about how they strike a healthy balance in parenting their four kids

By Jen Juneau
January 03, 2018 12:15 PM

Between their HGTV empire and parenting four kids (plus one more on the way!), Chip and Joanna Gaines are one busy couple.

But the Fixer Upper stars make it work — at least partly because they know how to strike a balance when it comes to rule enforcing.

“I grew up in an environment that was pretty much ‘back by dark’ — [my parents] didn’t generally know what we were doing, and it was all good, clean fun,” Chip, 43, tells PEOPLE. “So I thought, ‘Oh, I’m gonna be a wild parent.’ ”

He continues, “And when I got to be a parent, I don’t know what it is about it … I feel a little bit like a drill sergeant sometimes. Some elements of my personality, as a parent, I’m not real crazy about.”

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Luckily, Joanna is there to provide a little bit of smoothness when it comes to disciplining daughters Emmie Kay, 7, and Ella Rose, 11, plus sons Duke, 9, and Drake, 12.

“It’s funny, I’m a little more laid back than I thought I’d be,” she says. “[There are] certain things that I really care about, but I think the funny part, with Chip, is just the video games, the TV. That’s where he kinda gets a little strict. It’s, ‘You go play outside.’ ”

Watch the full episode of People Cover Story: Fixer Upper’s Chip and Joanna Gaines, streaming now on People/Entertainment Weekly Network (PEN). Go to, or download the app for Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Xumo, Chromecast, iOS and Android devices.

“I think I’m like, a quarter Amish,” Chip jokes. “I’ve got some glitch in me [where] I don’t like normal technological advances.”

“I don’t even know what’s gonna happen when the girls start asking to wear makeup, but we keep telling our kids they don’t get a phone until they go off to college,” explains Joanna, 39.

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A surprising aspect of his daughters’ future that Chip doesn’t see himself being so tough on? Dating. “I’ve got buddies who are like, ‘Oh, can you imagine your girls dating?’ ” he says. “I think I’m gonna be a good dad when it comes to that.”

“That’s where I’m gonna turn on the crazy,” Joanna says.

“I want my kids to date, I want them to go out,” Chip continues. “I just remember great experiences as a kid, you know? Driving your car for the first time, picking up a young lady on a date for the first time. All those were little milestones to some extent.”