Tom Hanks is one of the nation’s most beloved stars, so it’s no surprise that he’s been hailed as America’s Dad in more recent decades. In addition to acting as a father figure for those across the country (in our heads, at least), the Forrest Gump icon is a dad in real life to four kids of his own.
While married to his first wife, Samantha Lewis, from 1977 to 1987, Hanks welcomed his firstborn: a son named Colin, 45, who’s also a highly successful actor. A few years after Colin’s arrival, Hanks and Lewis brought their daughter Elizabeth, 41, into the fold, and she maintains a special place in the League of Their Own star’s heart as his sole daughter.
In 1988, Hanks wed fellow actress Rita Wilson, and two years later in 1990, the couple welcomed their first son, Chet, 31. The couple rounded out their family with Truman, 27, a second son for Wilson and a third for Hanks.
The quartet of Hanks kids, as well as Colin’s wife Samantha Bryant, supported their beloved dad at the 2020 Golden Globes as he accepted the Cecil B. DeMille award, and he turned the honor right back around on them. In his speech, he said, “A man is blessed with a family sitting down front like that. A wife who is fantastic in every way, who has taught me what love is. Five kids who are braver, stronger, and wiser than their old man is, a loving group of people who have put [up] with me being away for months and months and months at a time. … I can’t tell you how much your love means to me,” he emotionally addressed them.
For even more Tom Hanks quotes on family and fatherhood that pull at the heartstrings, read on.
On Being a Sounding Board
In September 2001, Hanks sat down for a conversation with Oprah for O Magazine. Of his eldest son, who was 23 at the time, the award-winning actor said, “I am ludicrously proud of my one son who is an adult, Colin — he is an actor who’s out there doing stuff. He astounds me. He is a gentleman and a professional who is pursuing something difficult.”
Hanks continued, “Yet the only thing he has ever asked me for is advice — never favors. He has just said, ‘What do you think I should do, Dad?’ It’s extraordinary to me that my son would listen to and have faith in whatever wisdom I can offer,” he humbly added.
Benchmarks for Successful Parenting
“All that most parents hope is that their children are happy, funny, well adjusted, and have a passion for something in their lives,” Hanks also told Oprah in 2001.
Raising Good Humans
While the Toy Story hero acknowledges his kids grew up with immense privilege, he also made it clear to Oprah that he and Wilson have focused on raising them with a strong moral compass.
“My kids understand that they’re not operating in a normal world,” he said.
“And yet there are principles they have to adhere to that are normal — like decency, choosing between right and wrong, and honesty. That’s important stuff, whether you’re flying first-class or not,” Hanks asserted.
Trial of Elimination
During a September 2020 conversation with Graham Bensinger, the Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood actor admitted fatherhood is a matter of trying, succeeding or failing, and learning. He said, “I learned through a process of elimination, of learning what not to do as opposed to what to do as a dad.”
Just Being Dad
Hanks also explained his outlook on balancing parenthood and fame to Bensinger. “Early on when they’re little kids, you just try to just be a guy who drives the carpool and picks them up after school and is around as much as possible,” he said of raising his brood.
Different Relationships Equal in Love
The Saving Private Ryan actor described his dynamic with his kids to Stylist UK in 2017, explaining, “I get along with each [of my children] completely differently, and every relationship I have is a whole and complete one.”
Praising His Kids’ Accomplishments
Sweeping the title for Supportive Dad of the Year, the Sleepless in Seattle star applauded Chet for his rap career while others met his with criticism. “What I love about my kid is that he’s doing it,” Hanks said in 2015 at the National WWII Museum’s American Spirit Award Gala, per Page Six. “There’s a lot of people who sit around for the phone to ring and wait for someone to invite them to do it. And my kid has done it,” he beamed.
On Unconditional Love
In 2015, Hanks applauded his son Chet for having the courage to publically address his battle with addiction. The Polar Express star told E.T. in October of that year, “As a parent, you love your kids unconditionally. You support them every step of the way.” He added, “You got to applaud the bravery and honesty when it actually comes out of your own house.”
The Bottom Line of Parenting
Speaking to The New York Times in March 2020, Hanks said, “Somewhere along the line, I figured out, the only thing really, I think, eventually a parent can do is say ‘I love you, there’s nothing you can do wrong, you cannot hurt my feelings, I hope you will forgive me on occasion, and what do you need me to do?’”
He added, “You offer up that to them. ‘I will do anything I can possibly do in order to keep you safe.’ That’s it. Offer that up and then just love them.”
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