Mel Gibson with his kids


Soccer dad Mel spends time with -- not big bucks on -- his kids.

DAD MAX! Tough-guy Mel Gibson plays a hands-on father at home.

MEL Gibson is one famous superstar who doesn't believe in spoiling his kids -- and he's got seven of them.

"Mel could just throw money and luxuries at his children and leave it at that," a close friend of the family told STAR. "But he's a very down-to-earth and concerned parent who is determined not to let them go astray. He's seen too many kids of super-rich stars go wrong because their parents don't teach them any values. But he's a super dad and his kids are all very well-behaved. Mel is a terrific jokester but when it comes to his kids he is deadly serious. He came from a large, closely knit family himself -- 11 kids. He cherishes the bonds and strong emotional ties that hold a family together."

Mel and Robyn, his wife of 19 years, who are both 43, just added number seven to their expansive brood. Their sixth son was born April 14. While Gibson can demand $20 million a picture, he has never given any of his kids a free handout. A major rule in the star's Malibu, Calif., household is that all his kids work or do chores for their pocket money.

"It may sound like tough love to many rich kids, but the whole family is growing up independent-minded and will never have to ask Mel for anything as they go through life," notes the friend.

His son, Will, 15, for instance, works at a nearby restaurant as a bus boy for the minimum wage of $6.50 an hour. He turns up at T****'s Italian Restaurant to work the evening shift, dons a pair of waiter's black pants and a white starched shirt and gets to work.

"He loves being able to earn his own money," says the friend. When Gibson's 9-year-old son Milo ran out of cash recently, he held a garage sale where he sold Beanie Babies from his collection. "A neighbor stopped by and asked if he had anything else to sell because they were not particularly interested in the Beanie Babies," says an insider. "Milo promptly offered his couch, a stereo, his bed and then threw in the entire contents of his bedroom. The neighbor laughed and said, 'You'd better ask your mom and dad first!' "

When Mel is not on a film set, he is a hands-on dad at home -- and on the soccer field. He often coaches 11-year-old Louis' fifth grade and Milo's third grade school teams.

None of Gibson's children, which also include only daughter Hannah, 18, and twin boys Christian and Edward, 17, have grandiose ideas about themselves just because their dad is a famous star, according to the insider.

"They hate pomposity. When Mel has to pick them up from local public schools, he sometimes turns up in a studio limo. When that happens, his kids tell him: 'Dad, you're embarrassing us!' They just hate to look so different in front of their classmates," adds the insider. "They want to be low-key and ordinary like all the others -- just as Mel and Robyn have brought them up to be. "They do chores, are polite and always clean up after themselves. Sometimes Robyn will take the kids to the local Pizza Hut where they will hang out, snack on pizza and play video games for a treat."

Superstar Gibson has even been seen trick or treating with his kids.

"Everyone was stunned to see Mel on their doorsteps accompanied by miniature goblins and monsters as he took his kids around to collect Halloween goodies from the neighbors," says the friend. "Mel definitely has my vote for father of the year this Father's Day."

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