Kate Hudson was just 3 years old — and sound asleep in the room she shared with her 6-year-old brother, Oliver — when her mom, Goldie Hawn, brought Kurt Russell home for the first time. While Kate obviously doesn’t remember that night, Goldie, 75, and Kurt, 70, have spoken of it so many times that it’s become something of a family legend and a story that Kate and her brother hold close to their hearts. “He sat down next to each of us and watched us sleeping,” Kate says of Kurt, who had just begun dating her mom after connecting on the set of the 1984 film Swing Shift, during her “Sibling Rivalry” podcast. “She realized then, Mom says, that kids and family values were everything to Kurt.”

The rest, as they say, is history. Goldie and Kurt fell in love. And though they never officially wed, they became one of Hollywood’s longest-lasting couples, with Kurt acting as a loving father to Kate and Oliver, whose relationship with their birth dad, Bill Hudson, had been strained and distant. When Kurt and Goldie welcomed son Wyatt in 1986, their happy family (including Kurt’s son Boston from a previous marriage) became complete. Says Kate: “It was one of those childhoods where you say, ‘Well, they must have done something right.’ Because we’re all so close!”

Kurt Russell, from left, Goldie Hawn and Kate Hudson
Invision/AP/Shutterstoc

From the start, Goldie put her children first. While her marriage to Bill ended in 1982 after just six years, she did everything she could to make sure that Oliver and Kate didn’t feel abandoned. “My mom gave me the floor to be able to feel confident,” Kate, 41, says. “Mom was my greatest cheerleader.”

And though Kate says she’s “very tough and can be strict,” Goldie also knew how to relax — and show her kids a good time. “My mom was — is — badass,” recalls Oliver, 44. “We did a bunch of road trips … We were in the Southwest cruising around in her van, and it just felt so free.”

Kurt Russell, Goldie Hawn, Kate Hudson and Wyatt Russell, and from front row left, Rio Hudson, Ryder Robinson, Bodhi Hawn Hudson, Wilder Brooks Hudson and Bingham Hawn Bellamy
Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP/S
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP/Shutterstock (9200548d)
Oliver Hudson, from back row left, Kurt Russell, Goldie Hawn, Kate Hudson and Wyatt Russell, and from front row left, Rio Hudson, Ryder Robinson, Bodhi Hawn Hudson, Wilder Brooks Hudson and Bingham Hawn Bellamy arrive at Goldie’s Love In For Kids, in Beverly Hills, Calif
Goldie’s Love In For Kids, Beverly Hills, USA – 6 May 2016

When Kurt entered the picture, he completed their family circle. “Kurt is my dad,” Kate’s told McCall’s magazine. “Kurt is a savior who came into my life.” His love for Goldie was both a blessing and an inspiration. “I think what they have … is something to strive for,” Kate says of the pair, who have defied show business odds, not only by staying together for so many years, but also by creating an environment for their kids that was as normal as possible. While Oliver admits he often felt overwhelmed when he was out in public with his famous parents, Kurt and Goldie were aware of that. “They were just really kind,” Kate says, recalling that they would tell fans begging for pictures and autographs, “Not when I’m with my kids.”

These days, family is still at the forefront of Kurt and Goldie’s lives. As busy as they both continue to be, they live close to their children, all of whom now have kids of their own. “My parents are amazing grandparents,” Oliver says. “We’re a very tight family.”

For more on this story and others, pick up the latest issue of Closer magazine, on newsstands now.