What ‘Survivor’ Host Jeff Probst Really Thinks About Becoming a Father to His Wife’s Kids

Fans of reality TV know and love Survivor, and they seem to love the host just as much as they love the gameplay. Jeff Probst has been gracing our television screens for nearly two decades, and we can’t imagine the hit TV series without him. And while Jeff manages to stay out of the spotlight regarding his personal life, fans are still curious about the star’s marriage — and about his kids.

So, what is parenting like for Jeff Probst, especially since his kids aren’t biologically his own? Here’s what we know.

Jeff Probst married Lisa Ann Russell in 2011 and helps co-parent her 2 kids

Television host Jeff Probst (R) and his wife Lisa Ann Russell
Television host Jeff Probst (R) and his wife Lisa Ann Russell attend CW, CBS, And Showtime 2012 Summer TCA Party | Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

The beloved Survivor host is 57 years old and has been married once before. Super fans may also remember when Jeff was dating a former contestant from the show for a spell — but no one could quite capture his heart like his current wife, Lisa Ann Russell. Heavy reminds us Jeff and Lisa both had previous marriages before tying the knot. Lisa, who was an actress in her youth, was married to Mark-Paul Gosselaar whom she met when they were both working on the set of Saved by the Bell. They were married for 14 years before their split in 2010.

It didn’t take long for Jeff to sweep Lisa off her feet. The pair married in 2011 and had a quiet ceremony in Los Angeles just for family and friends. With the marriage, Jeff also acquired two stepchildren — Michael and Ava. He has no biological children of his own.

He loves being a parent and doesn’t see the kids as stepchildren

So, how did Jeff really feel about stepping up to the plate to be a dad in his late 40s? It seems he really loves co-parenting with Lisa. Michael and Ava were just 8 and 6 years old when he first came into their lives, Toronto Sun reports, but he knew he wanted to be a positive influence in their lives while they were still young. And E! News reports in an interview, Jeff even mentioned that he doesn’t like to refer to them as “stepkids” at all — rather, they’re just his children, and he loves them whether they’re biologically his or not.

In an interview with Larry King, Jeff explained their family dynamic of “blended family.” Regarding Lisa and Mark-Paul, he said, “They raised them with the kind of love that the kids they see me, and he’s now remarried, his wife, they just see us as two more parents.” And Jeff even explained that the kids call him “dad” just like they call their biological father. “Sometimes it’d be dad, sometimes it’d be Jeff, dad two, sometimes it’d be D-2. But when we got married, when this ring went on my finger, Michael looked up and said, ‘dad,’ and I could tell that he knew now that this big thing was official and it was real,” he said.

Jeff’s even written children’s books with a Survivor premise

Lisa Ann Russell and TV Personality Jeff Probst
Lisa Ann Russell and TV Personality Jeff Probst attend An Evening with Women benefiting the Los Angeles LGBT Center at the Hollywood Palladium on May 16, 2015 | Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images for Los Angeles LGBT Center

Anyone who’s seen Jeff in an interview knows how passionate he is about his show. And to combine the idea of Survivor with the concept of blended families to his newly acquired stepchildren, he and Lisa came up with the idea to write children’s books. Toronto Sun explains their kid-friendly fiction series, Stranded, is the story of four children who are shipwrecked with no adults around. And, of course, the four children are from a blended family dynamic. Jeff co-wrote the books with another author, Chris Tebbetts, and the series is perfect for those between 8 and 12 years old.

While Jeff certainly has to take a few months away from his family per year, he certainly looks forward to spending the rest of his free time with his wife and kids. As for if his children watch Survivor, Jeff said in an interview with GQ that they couldn’t care less about the show. “I could be around 20 kids and 18 of them are Survivor addicts. But the two who don’t care? Mine,” he said. “I think that means you’re being a good parent, if they see you as a parent, and not as your job.”

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