Matthew McConaughey Opens Up About the Importance of 'Tough Love' and Saying 'No' as a Parent

Matthew McConaughey and wife Camila Alves McConaughey discuss parenting and their Just Keep Livin' Foundation in a new interview with Town & Country

Matthew McConaughey Town & Country
Matthew McConaughey for Town & Country. Photo: Philip Montgomery

Matthew McConaughey knows that giving his kids the world also means saying no sometimes.

In a new cover interview with Town & Country for the magazine's Philanthropy Issue, the actor and his wife, Camila Alves McConaughey, open up about the work they're doing with their Just Keep Livin' Foundation, as well as how they take their own experiences into account when parenting their three children: daughter Vida, 10, plus sons Livingston, 7, and Levi, 12 next month.

"I was very fortunate," says McConaughey, 50. "I grew up upper-middle-class, and I had a roof over my head, food on the table, parents that loved and supported me, a car that was paid for, and a job, and I made straight As."

While at some points "loving your kids means giving them just what they want," the Oscar winner notes that at "other times it means tough love."

"Affluent people can give their kids everything they want, but they're not usually going to get what they need. Loving a child is a lot harder if you really give a damn," McConaughey says. " 'No' takes a lot more energy. It's a lot easier to say 'yes.' "

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Matthew McConaughey Town & Country
Matthew McConaughey and Camila Alves McConaughey for Town & Country. Philip Montgomery
Matthew McConaughey Town & Country
Matthew McConaughey and Camila Alves McConaughey for Town & Country. Philip Montgomery

When asked whether he or Alves McConaughey says "no" more often, the father of three jokes, "From the snicker that my wife's giving me, it seems that I'm more consistently the yes guy. She's probably right."

According to its website, the Just Keep Livin' Foundation — named for a phrase the actor lived by after the death of his father in 1992 — "is dedicated to empowering high school students by providing them with the tools to lead active lives and make healthy choices for a better future."

"When you have your first child and you're in the position that Matthew is, whoever gets that first photo will make a lot of money," Alves McConaughey, 38, recalls of the nonprofit's genesis, around the time of Levi's 2008 birth.

"When we found out that the person was going to make over a million dollars on a photo, we were like, 'No. We're going to do an exclusive and get the money and put it into the foundation,' " adds the Yummy Spoonfuls co-owner.

Matthew McConaughey Town & Country
Matthew McConaughey and Camila Alves McConaughey cover Town & Country's Philanthropy Issue. Philip Montgomery

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McConaughey recently opened up about being a dad at the History channel's HISTORYTalks in New York City this past March, joking that while he'd "like to have eight more kids," his "wife's not on the same page."

"I understand that. It's a lot easier for us [men]," he quipped.

While reflecting on his career and what he hopes to leave behind, the Interstellar actor also called his sons and daughter his "living legacy."

"I've got a large hand in shepherding my three children up until they're 18 and out of the house," he said. "Yeah, see if I hold on to my words in a few years. That's the thing I think I do most honorably is having three autonomous, conscientious, confident children."

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