02/15/2007 at 03:00 PM EST
Calling this "the most personally devastating time in [my] life," Ryan Philippe says his daughter Ava is helping him get through the breakup of his marriage to Reese Witherspoon.
"Going through something like this, as difficult as it is, my daughter has been the inspiration – my 7-year-old daughter Ava," Phillippe tells Ellen DeGeneres in an episode of her talk show airing Friday.
The little girl is beyond her years in "conscientiousness and maturity," he says. "I know it sounds pathetic – I'm a 32-year-old guy, but my 7-year-old daughter is getting me through the toughest time in my life, and that's beautiful too."
Asked how his and Witherspoon's son Deacon is handling the divorce, Phillippe tells DeGeneres, "He's all right, you know. I mean, 3-year-olds – he's fun, every day he says something that makes me laugh, warms my heart. They're hanging in there. It ain't easy."
Phillippe and Witherspoon, 30, separated in October
after seven years of marriage.
"It's devastating," Phillippe tells DeGeneres, "but the bottom line is the focus is on the children, and they're doing amazingly well and that's really all that matters."