Patrick Dempsey on how his kids react to his longtime 'heartthrob' status (Exclusive)

Patrick Dempsey's been a heartthrob for decades, and while that's a feat to be proud of in Hollywood, his kids aren't too impressed. 

"Oh yeah, they make fun of me," the actor told ET's Nischelle Turner at the American Cancer Society's California Spirit 34 Food and Wine Benefit on Sunday. "They don't let me take my stuff too seriously, which is good."

"I mean, I'm just Dad, so... either you're 'Cool Dad' or not. It depends on where they're at in their development and age," Dempsey, who shares 17-year-old Tallula and 12-year-old twins Sullivan and Darby with wife Jillian Fink, added. "Yeah, it's funny."

ET, meanwhile, continues to be impressed by the 53-year-old actor, who remains nothing but humble about his success in the business, from his early parts in Loverboy and Can't Buy Me Love to his memorable role on Grey's Anatomy. 

Watching an ET clip of himself from 1989's Loverboy had him feeling reflective. "It's nice to just, number one, be a working actor and to have had a career and to be able to do something positive with it," he said. 

Dempsey has paid it forward through his work with the Dempsey Center, the non-profit cancer support foundation he helped establish in honor of his mom, Amanda. She was diagnosed with the disease in 1997 and lost her battle in 2014. 

"I think she was really proud of the work that was being done at the center," the father of three said, noting that his mom got a chance to participate in several of the foundation's programs. Going forward, Dempsey hopes the center is able to connect with others on a larger scale, like the American Cancer Society, which honored him with the Impact Award on Sunday.

"It's really developing relationships with them... using that network and bringing a message to alternative, supportive care and integrated therapy," he shared. "Things like that are really important." 

"This is a commitment that I'm in for the rest of my life," Dempsey vowed. "This is my mission in life."

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Patrick Dempsey hits 'The Art of Racing in the Rain' premiere with family
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Patrick Dempsey hits 'The Art of Racing in the Rain' premiere with family
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 01: Patrick Dempsey arrives at the Premiere Of 20th Century Fox's "The Art Of Racing In The Rain" at El Capitan Theatre on August 01, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 01: Tallula Dempsey, Patrick Dempsey, Darby Dempsey, Sullivan Dempsey and Jillian Fink arrives for the Premiere Of 20th Century Fox's "The Art Of Racing In The Rain" held at El Capitan Theatre on August 1, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 01: Tallula Dempsey, Patrick Dempsey, Darby Dempsey, Sullivan Dempsey and Jillian Fink arrives for the Premiere Of 20th Century Fox's "The Art Of Racing In The Rain" held at El Capitan Theatre on August 1, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 01: Patrick Dempsey and family (L-R) Tallula Dempsey, Darby Dempsey, Sullivan Dempsey and Jillian Fink attend the premiere of 20th Century Fox's "The Art of Racing in the Rain" at El Capitan Theatre on August 01, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images)
US actor Patrick Dempsey (C) and family attend the premiere of 20th Century Fox's "The Art Of Racing In The Rain" at the El Capitan Theatre on August 1, 2019 in Los Angeles. (Photo by JEAN-BAPTISTE LACROIX / AFP) (Photo credit should read JEAN-BAPTISTE LACROIX/AFP/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 01: Patrick Dempsey and family attend the premiere of 20th Century Fox's "The Art Of Racing In The Rain" at El Capitan Theatre on August 01, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 01: Patrick Dempsey arrives for the Premiere Of 20th Century Fox's "The Art Of Racing In The Rain" held at El Capitan Theatre on August 1, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 01: Patrick Dempsey attends the premiere of 20th Century Fox's "The Art Of Racing In The Rain" at El Capitan Theatre on August 01, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images)
US actor Patrick Dempsey attends the premiere of 20th Century Fox's "The Art Of Racing In The Rain" at the El Capitan Theatre on August 1, 2019 in Los Angeles. (Photo by JEAN-BAPTISTE LACROIX / AFP) (Photo credit should read JEAN-BAPTISTE LACROIX/AFP/Getty Images)
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