October 03, 2014 06:00 PM

Axelle/FilmMagic

Dierks Bentley didn’t know what he was thinking before he met his wife.

In a recent interview with Esquire, the country crooner says it wasn’t until Cassidy entered his life that he officially became a man.

“Women are very wise, knowingly and unknowingly. They have a lot more going on upstairs and in their soul than we do,” Bentley, 38, says.

“My wife, I always felt, has been very wise and has dragged me along, getting me to this spot of manhood.”

Although Cassidy started Bentley off on the journey, it took hitting three major markers in the road — the births of their children, Knox, 1 on Thursday, Jordan Catherine, 3½, and Evalyn Day, 6 — for him to reach his final destination.

“I thought I was a man until I had kids, and then I realized that my real life had just begun,” he explains. “It tears away the person you were before, builds you up to become the person you have to become, the person you have to become makes you learn a lot of skills — a lot of man skills.”

He adds, “That all comes with a kid. Especially three of them.”

While he was once happy to boast about those skills and the achievements of his children, the singer admits these days he’s not so much into the sharing-is-caring belief.

“When you have one kid, you’re very eager to tell everyone how you’re doing. ‘This is how we did it. You gotta follow our lead. We read Baby Wise,’ ” he says.

“Then you get two kids, and there’s never time to brag about anything. You’re just trying to stay afloat. And then by the time three kids rolls around, you don’t wanna tell anybody anything.”

Despite spending long hours on the road — he’s currently out on his Riser tour — there used to be a time in Bentley’s life when he lingered on the tour bus, with little waiting for him back home.

Now, the proud father has gone above and beyond being the first one off the bus.

“I got back into flying — got my pilot’s license — so instead of leaving the night before a gig, I can leave the day of and get one extra night at home, one extra morning,” he reveals.

— Anya Leon

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