"You're a role model whether you like it or not," Chris Hemsworth tells PEOPLE of his experiences in being a parent

By Sharon Kanter
July 21, 2017 12:55 PM

Even Avengers can have a tough time parenting!

Indeed, just because Chris Hemsworth has saved the world several times over as the hammer-throwing Thor on screen doesn’t mean he’s immune to the challenges of child-rearing.

The father of three — to twin sons Sasha and Tristan, 3, and 5-year-old daughter India Rose with wife Elsa Pataky — knows there are ups and downs. His goal through it all? Just try to set a good example.

“I want them to have a great appreciation for everything,” the 33-year-old Australian actor told PEOPLE during a sit-down to discuss his new role as the star of the BOSS Bottled Tonic fragrance campaign (the scent just launched at Macy’s this month).

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Elsa Pataky/Instagram

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That means keeping his kids grounded, despite his own global fame.

“As a kid, we had very little money, and my parents saved up all year to just pay for a two-week camping vacation,” Hemsworth explains. “Financially, we’re in a different position, but I want to make sure they know these things don’t come easy. You have to work for it, and you can’t take it for granted.”

Continues the star, “Success is more about the values we have and the type of people we are rather than the material objects that we might obtain.”

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But being a role model — something unavoidable when you’re a parent — isn’t as easy as it may seem. “They are absolute sponges and pick up all the good and bad things you do, like the occasional swear word,” he notes of his little ones. “You’re a role model whether you like it or not.”

Hemsworth credits his, Luke and Liam Hemsworth‘s parents for setting a good example that has inspired him to do the same.

“I grew up with very little money, but my parents were my absolute heroes,” he says. “They were respectful, kind human beings and operated in a way that was constantly inspiring and nurturing and kind.”

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Being a dad is something Hemsworth treasures dearly — especially the time he spends with his three children in the early mornings, before he takes to the Australian waters to surf. As he explains, “My alarm clock is usually my three kids jumping on my head.”

Adds the Ghostbusters star, “But if I can get a surf in nice and early — like leaving the house before they get up, surfing and coming back right as they’re getting breakfast — there’s no better way to start the day.”