Liam Payne shares his only child, 3-year-old son Bear, with ex Cheryl

By Jen Juneau
April 10, 2020 02:30 PM
WE Day UK, Wembley Arena, London, UK - 06 Mar 2019
Credit: James Veysey/REX/Shutterstock

Liam Payne is counting down the days when he can see his son Bear Grey in person again.

In an interview published Thursday by U.K. outlet The Sun, the “Strip That Down” singer revealed that Bear is staying with his mom, Payne’s ex Cheryl, as the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to require ongoing social distancing.

“It was right around his birthday that [the lockdown] happened,” Payne said of his only child, who turned 3 on March 22. “It was one of the first times I was in the ­country for his birthday and I was ready to go over and I just thought, ‘I don’t know how I feel about it.’ ”

The former One Direction member, 26, also admitted that it has “been difficult having to put up with a lot of FaceTime,” in part because “sometimes” Bear “wants to talk on FaceTime” but “sometimes he doesn’t.”

“Me and Cheryl had a very open conversation about visiting, but it’s difficult,” Payne said, adding, “I have a newfound respect for people who have these jobs that mean they have to miss their kids a lot.”

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE’s free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

Liam Payne and son Bear
| Credit: Liam Payne/Instagram

Payne and Cheryl — who broke up in summer 2018 after three years of dating — are pretty private when it comes to their son, but will sometimes open up about their parenting dynamic.

“I’m the strict one; Liam isn’t,” The Greatest Dancer judge, 36, told The Telegraph last April. “I’ll be the one saying, ‘Just one square of chocolate,’ but Bear is so good.”

“If I get cross with him he puts his little hands on my face and looks into my eyes to see if I’m deadly serious or a tiny bit cross, and it melts my heart,” Cheryl added of her little boy. “[Liam is] much softer than me. But it is what it is, and I’m okay about it.”

She also revealed that even in the aftermath of their split, the singers have a “responsibility to keep things settled and happy,” which is exactly what they’ve done.

Liam Payne (L) and Cheryl in 2016
| Credit: Henri Tullio/Paris Match via Getty Images

RELATED VIDEO: Dad Makes Up Social-Distancing Version of Easter-Egg Hunt

As of Friday morning, a New York Times database reports 463,619 confirmed cases in the United States, and 65,077 in the U.K. The death toll in each country has hit 16,695 and 7,978, respectively, according to the Times.

Johns Hopkins University‘s regularly updated interactive map is reporting more than 1.6 million confirmed cases of the virus worldwide, with 98,401 deaths.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.