The Heartwarming Reason Michael Strahan Didn't Retire After the NFL: 'I Try to Be an Example of Hard Work' for My Kids

"They're the reason I wake up and work so hard," Michael Strahan tells PEOPLE of how his four children inspire him in his day-to-day life

Michael Strahan is opening up about the difference between raising a son and three daughters.

“Girls are much more emotional. I’ll get in trouble for that, but boys are just easier,” the television personality and former New York Giants player, 45, tells PEOPLE for this week’s issue. “Boys are kinda like, ‘Oh, okay, yeah.’ Very simple.”

“Where I think girls are a little more emotional and want more explanation on things,” he adds. “It’s a little bit different between the follow up questions.”

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The Good Morning America co-host is dad to 12-year-old twin daughters Sophia and Isabella, son Michael Jr., 22, and daughter Tanita, 25.

And he explains that aside from the behavioral differences between his son and daughters, he has learned there are also challenges in the way he communicates with them.

“When you have a son, you’re like, ‘How are you doing? You have a girlfriend? Are there cute girls? How’s your dating life?’ ” Strahan says. “When [you have] a daughter, you’re like, ‘Boys are bad. Stay away. No dating until you’re 80 years old.’ ”

“It’s a totally different mentality. It just seems much more protective over the daughter than the son.”

Andrew Hetherington

RELATED VIDEO: Michael Strahan Credits His Parents’ Support For His NFL Success

As if being a dad to four kids and co-hosting GMA wasn’t enough, Strahan also hosts the revival of the legendary game show The $100,000 Pyramid. But he shares that his decision to keep working after his retirement from the NFL has a lot to do with his kids.

“They’re the reason I wake up and work so hard. I’m not working hard to pay for things, I work hard to be an example,” he says. “I retired from football when I was 36, and my twins were 3, and here they can grow up and I can talk to them about hard work and show them highlights from my football days or I can show them in the real world and they can see it now.”

He continues, “And my older kids as well. I try to be an example of hard work and where it gets you, and hopefully that inspires them.”

Andrew Hetherington

Strahan is obviously no stranger to hard work, but when it comes to his kids, he wants them to have one thing even above drive, ambition and work ethic: happiness.

“I think we put so much value on success and achievements and that’s all good and great, but life is not just meant to be about where you went to school or all these superficial things or what you have,” he says.

“You are meant to be happy, and to do something that inspires you and drives you. I hope all my kids find something that they wake up excited to do, and with the mindset of being the best. If I can get that, that’s the best.”

For more on Michael Strahan’s family life, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.

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