“I’m terrified of raising two girls,” she tells PEOPLE while discussing the upcoming new season of her CNN series, This Is Life with Lisa Ling. “Just thinking of myself as a teenager and how boy crazy I was and how curious I was, I am absolutely terrified.”
Ling – who shares Ray, 15 months, and Jett, 4½, with her husband, oncologist Dr. Paul Song – says that she comes from a family that “was not communicative at all about sex or dating or emotions,” so she’s “ready now.”
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“Even though my eldest is only 4, I’m ready to have those conversations because I didn’t,” explains Ling, 44. “I want them both to be empowered about everything, to know that they can do whatever they want and not be inhibited about anything – but that they need to be careful sometimes.”
Ling’s experience as an award-winning journalist and through her series has “opened her eyes to how other people live,” and made her “not only a smarter person but a better person,” she says. In turn, it’s helped further shape the values she hopes to instill in Jett and Ray.
“I really hope that my girls will maintain an open mind about people and not become so judgmental,” she shares, adding, “I do hope that my own girls are people who look out for other people, and would intervene if someone is being harassed or made fun of or bullied.”
Says Ling, “I just want them to be decent humans, because through my work I’ve come to realize that as different as we are, we all have common needs and desires.”
For now, though, she’s just happy letting her kids be kids. “[Jett] is the life of the party and is just super outgoing and loves to make people and herself laugh,” she shares. “She literally cannot hear music without her body starting to move. She’s such a ball of energy and joy, but she’s also extremely girly.”
In fact, Ling says her home was devoid of anything pink or sparkly before Jett’s arrival – “and now it’s like every single thing she has on is pink head to toe.”
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Ray, she shares “has no fear, she just will climb anything.” Adds Ling, “She’s so happy, she is smiling constantly. [Her name] really suits her because she has been such a ray of light in our lives.”
Ling also teases the “really exciting” fourth season of This Is Life, revealing the “diverse array of topics” viewers will explore with her.
“We explore the idea of sexual healing in our first episode,” she says. “We also embed with a heavily armed militia in Arizona. We spend time with African American Muslims in this country and we go beneath the Las Vegas strip to meet people who have been living in tunnels beneath Las Vegas.”
This is Life with Lisa Ling returns to CNN on Sunday at 10 p.m. ET/PT.