Tom Cruise always treats his children with the same respect he pays to adults, because he's just as much their "friend" as their "mentor".

The screen star, 41, insists his kids ISABELLA, 10, and CONNOR, eight - who divide their time with Cruise in Los Angeles and their mum Nicole Kidman in New York and Australia - always take priority over his movie career, and the Vanilla Sky hunk is always "fascinated" by their views.

He says, "I take great pride in what I do. I've always given everything and it's the same with my kids. I can't do anything halfway.

"I take great pride in my children and do whatever I can to help them and be there for them. It doesn't matter what I'm doing, they become part of it.

"I don't talk down to my kids; I'm not an authoritarian parent. I've always granted them a lot of respect and I want to know what they think, what they want to do and I'm constantly fascinated by their point of view of life.

"I don't see them as little kids, they're people. They surprise me how smart and insightful they are. They're my kids and I'm their father, role model and mentor - but I'm also their friend."

24/11/2003 16:13