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Exclusive: Brandon Barash (Stefan, DAYS) On Fatherhood, Take Two

Brandon Barash


It’s been nearly a decade since Brandon Barash (Stefan, DAYS OF OUR LIVES) has had a new baby in the house — his daughter, Harper, with ex-wife Kirsten Storms (Maxie, GH), turned 10 on January 7 — but things changed on September 15, 2023, when the actor and his wife, Isabella, welcomed their first child together, Joaquin Lee.

When it came to picking a name, he explains, “My [late] dad’s name was Jerry Lee Barash, JLB. So we wanted our son to be JLB, too. We also wanted to honor Isa’s Latin heritage. She’s Argentine. We decided Joaquin was very strong. And his middle name, Lee, is my dad’s middle name. So Joaquin Lee Barash, JLB.”



Game Faces: Barash helped baby Joaquin enjoy his first Super Bowl.

Fatherhood the second time around “is very different” for Barash. He notes, “There’s a lot less fear involved for me. My wife is a first-time mother, and I see her going through the neurosis and the fear of, ‘Oh my God. He’s doing this. Is that okay?’ or, ‘Oh my God. This just happened. Is that all right?’ ” Barash’s atittude is more laid-back. “You kind of realize that [babies] are made to be a bit indestructible, within reason,” he says. “So the fear and the neuroses are certainly scaled back quite a bit this time. There’s a lot of muscle memory that happens, like, ‘Oh, right. This is how a diaper change goes.’ You just end up doing stuff like you hadn’t stopped. It’s like catching up with an old friend.”

Yet there are some things he had forgotten about the experience. “The amount of spit-up,” announces Barash with a laugh. “I did forget that for a period of time, every single top you wear – be it a jacket or a shirt or a sweater or a hoodie – will have white smears on it a couple hours into the day. And you just need to be okay with that. That was one thing that I definitely forgot, [but] I don’t think I forgot the visceral feeling of locking eyes with that child for the first time, because it’s something I’ve certainly never forgotten with Harper. And the first time they wrap their tiny little hands around a finger of yours and hold on for dear life.”

Aside from the joy of having a new baby in the household, Barash is also enjoying watching his wife acclimate to motherhood and his daughter, Harper, adapt to being a big sister. “It’s everything I envisioned,” smiles Barash. “Isa became a mother so gracefully, so effortlessly. It was like she was designed, programmed by a computer, to be a mother. It’s just crazy what her instincts are, and the ferocity with which she loves our son is beautiful. It’s not that I expected anything less, because she’s an incredible stepmother to Harper. She treats Harper as if she gave birth to her. She loves her as if she’s her own. So I didn’t expect anything different with Joaquin, and I marvel at how effortless and seamless [motherhood] was for my wife.”

The same can be said about Harper adapting to having a sibling. “I’ve asked her many times, ‘What is your favorite part about having a brother?’ ” recounts Barash. “Her response every time, consistently, has been, ‘Having another life to love.’ I can feel my [late] dad, wherever he is, patting me on the back saying, ‘Good job, Son.’ Because I’ve got to be doing something right if those are my daughter’s priorities, giving love and compassion to her little brother and helping him find his way in this world through that love and compassion. It’s the most beautiful thing.

“She wants to be involved in everything,” continues Barash. “She wants to change his diapers, she wants to dress him, she wants to feed him.… We took her with us to Joaquin’s four-month checkup, and she was there holding his hand. He got two shots, and she was just all up in the mix helping and holding him and telling him it was okay. She could not be more helpful. I could not ask for more.”

Harper-Joaquin Barash


Double The Pleasure: Barash is proud of how daughter Harper has adjusted to being a big sister.

Though he’s been a girl dad for a decade, Barash insists he truly didn’t have a preference regarding the new baby’s sex. “My wife teases me all the time. She’s like, ‘You wanted a boy. You know it,’ ” says Barash. “Before Harper was born, before we found out whether she was going to be, a boy or girl, I thought, ‘I’ve got to have a boy.’ It was that American male mentality of, ‘We have to carry on the male lineage. We have to carry on the last name.’ Then I found out I was having a girl and I thought, ‘This is everything I need.’ And it turned out Harper was everything I needed. She has taught me as much about being a man as my father did. So it didn’t really matter to me whether this kid was going to be a boy or a girl. Am I excited because it’s going to be a slightly different experience? Yeah, absolutely. But it did not matter to me one way or the other.”

Barash admits that he learned some lessons from his first go-round as a dad that he’s implementing into his second. “Lead with compassion and patience,” he asserts. “The biggest thing as far as being a parent for me is the notion that these children are conceived and born without their consent. They have no say whether they’re here on this planet or not. We choose to bring them into this life, into this world. So it’s up to us to give them the absolute best experience possible. That’s when relationships with oneself transform. That’s when priorities shift. And it’s really one of the most, if not the most, beautiful part of this life, giving yourself to that child and to those circumstances, while still maintaining a very strong sense of self.”

Clearly, Barash is a man who takes fatherhood seriously. “I’ve always said, ‘No matter what job I have, no matter what role I play, no matter what accolades I will ever receive for [my acting work], no job will ever be more important than my job as a father in this life,’ ” he professes. “It’s just what I was made to do; I was made to bring children into this world and teach them love, compassion and kindness, and how to leave this place better than it was the day they arrived. If I can go to sleep at night and ask myself, ‘Are my kids happy? Do they feel loved? Do they feel worthy? Do they feel safe?’ and the answer is yes, then my job is done as a father for that day. It is incredibly fulfilling to have another life to be able to give myself to.”