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In addition to Denise and your girls, the family Yorkie, Coco, is female. That's a lot of estrogen! I grew up with four sisters so I've always been surrounded by women. I like to think it made me a sweet, attentive, caring, and open person.... I feel terrible saying all these nice things about myself!
We won't tell anyone. Do your daughters often ask you for advice since you're so approachable? Not unless it's about driving! I guess that's a guy thing? They turn to their mom when it comes to questions about boys or friends. But if I want to talk to them about dating, I have no problem spelling it out.
You must intimidate the boys who come to your house. Well, I'm 6'4", and I don't say much. So I'd probably be scared of me too! But if they're nice kids, I'm easy to get along with.
Who holds the reins when it comes to parenting? I like to let the girls make their own mistakes now and then. But neither Denise nor I is the hovering type who has to know what the kids are doing every second of the day. They need to learn to be self-sufficient.
Well, you must have done something right. Mattie, now a junior in college, was the high school valedictorian. I think she came from the factory that way. All my girls are smart and well-rounded. They've traveled and met all sorts of people. I always say they did more in their first five years of life than I did in 30.
Speaking of youth, you and Denise were high school sweethearts and have been married for 31 years. But you separated for six months, and she wrote a book about marriage: It's All About Him: Finding the Love of My Life. What made you stick it out? We married when we were kids so we had to learn to get along as adults. We finally realized we didn't want to be apart.
Fast Facts Record Breaker: Alan has sold more than 50 million albums and won 150 awards, including the Country Music Association's Entertainer of the Year.
Love at First Sight: "I met Denise at a Dairy Queen one Sunday night after church when we were teenagers. I was flirting and threw a penny at her, and it went down her shirt. She thought it was funny—until I asked if I could get it out."
Macho Man: Despite a soft spot for their Yorkie, Alan draws the line at cuddling her in public when she's decked out in doggie clothes. "I tell Denise, 'I'm not going to sit here and hold Coco when she has a dress on. I have an image to maintain.'"
Holiday Flavor: "Every year the girls and I look forward to Denise's cornbread dressing. She only makes it for Thanksgiving and Christmas."
Retirement Plans: "You'll probably find me on a boat somewhere. My first job was at a marina in Georgia, where I tinkered with the boats all day. My daddy was a mechanic, so there's a bit of him in me."
Originally published in the November 1, 2010, issue of Family Circle magazine.