Thomas Ravenel sets the record straight after catching "grief" for saying his two kids with costar ex Kathryn Dennis are living in his guesthouse

By Lanford Beard
April 10, 2017 09:00 AM

Thomas Ravenel wants to clear up what he says was a misconstrued moment from Southern Charms season 4 premiere.

In the episode, Ravenel — who is in the midst of a fierce years-long custody battle with his costar ex Kathryn Dennis over their two children — shared that he is raising daughter Kensie, 3, and son Saint, 18 months, in the guesthouse of his Antebellum plantation estate.

Viewers immediately questioned the choice, and Ravenel wants to set the record straight.

“I caught all this grief for this,” he tells PEOPLE, “but I was taking the advice of my nanny, who said that would be the most appropriate place to raise the children because the front house is like a museum that’s four stories — it’s very dangerous. There are no open areas to play, you have all this antique-y furniture, you know, it’s just not conducive to raising children, it’s not kid-friendly.”

He adds, “I mean, this is a woman who’s a phenomenal person who knows her stuff.”

Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU

Though neither Ravenel nor Dennis can discuss the specifics of their ongoing legal dispute, he tells PEOPLE, “I have the kids full-time, so I’m doing it myself.” He’s focusing on teaching his children good manners and instilling in them a sense of discipline and boundaries because “I think that’s a form of love.”

The former South Caroline State Treasurer, whose tenure ended in 2007 when he was indicted on drug charges, draws a political picture for his approach toward fatherhood: “I tell people, ‘I’m a Libertarian at the federal level, state level I’m a Republican, local level I’m a Democrat, but at the family level I’m a Dictator-slash Communist Socialist.’ ”

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Jokes aside, Ravenel is clear about his priorities as he turns a new page on his relationship with Dennis (who completed a stint in rehab before filming began on season 4).

“Conflict is something I’ve tried to shield the children from,” he shares. “That’s one of the reasons it was best that Kathryn and I go our separate ways because that conflict, all the constant disagreements and arguments, was creating a negative energy that was unhealthy for the children. It was a children-first decision.”

He adds, “I might have hung in there. We had some good times but there was also so much negativity that was very unhealthy for the children. We had to put the children first.”

Southern Charm airs Mondays (9 p.m. ET) on Bravo.