EXCLUSIVE: James Stewart talks parenting and the important lesson he’s taught daughter Scout

“Being a dad has brought me so much joy.”
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The past few years have been tough for James Stewart, who plays Justin Morgan in Home And Away and who rose to fame as Jake Barton in hit drama Packed To The Rafters.

After splitting from his fiancée, actress Jessica MaraisJa, star of The Wrong Girl and Love Child, he’s had his share of being in the pages of the tabloid media.

But if there’s one thing to know about James, 42, it’s that his greatest role to date is being a dad.

“She is my world,” James enthuses as he opens up about the “love of his life”. “She’s the cutest thing I have ever seen.”

For the past two years, James has been busy co-parenting daughter Scout, five, with Jessica. They were together for five years before separating in 2015 – three years after they welcomed gorgeous Scout into the world.

“Time has flown by,” James says as his pride and joy prepares to start primary school this year.

“I can’t believe Jess and I are already those parents standing at the school gate,” he says, after sharing a snap on Instagram of the trio outside the school she’ll be attending.

“That’s a big thing. This is the first step of Scout’s independence, and it absolutely kills me. I have to put on a brave face.”

As we sit down with James to talk all things family, Home And Away and his future, the subject of his beloved Scout starting “big school” is enough to bring tears to his eyes.

“It’s an emotional time,” he admits, before explaining just why he’s so upset.

“You know what it is?” he says. “It’s realising you can never always be there for them and that you just hope they make the right decisions in life.

“Right now, I’m making the right decisions for Scout. I’m doing everything for her – for example, if we’re at home and she grabs the wrong toothpaste or toothbrush, I’ll tell her.

“I know that sounds silly, but it’s that guidance bit I’ll miss. Now, it’s not mine so much – that’s the hardest part.”

As James prepares for Scout to head out into the world, he admits he’s relished every moment he has spent with her since she was born.

“Being a dad has brought me so much joy,” the actor declares, adding he has tried his very best to be a positive influence on his little girl.

In particular, he’s enjoyed teaching Scout about the important things in life, such as humility, compassion, responsibility and gratitude.

“Kindness is the big one we talk about,” James says. “If you think about it, everything stems from that. Honesty stems from that, friendship stems from that, being good to others stems from that – and being good to yourself too.”

James and Jessica feel strongly about making sure Scout is aware of just how special, loved and worthy she is. They work together to achieve that.

“Just like in the movie The Help [the 2011 film in which Viola Davis played a maid], we tell Scout, ‘You’re kind, you’re smart, you’re important,'” James says with a smile.

“I just love that – that’s how Jess and I want our daughter to feel.”

To read the full story, pick up this week’s issue of TV WEEK.

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