Forest Whitaker knows the challenges and joys that come with raising kids.
The Academy Award-winning actor has four adult children ― a son, Ocean, and three daughters, Autumn, Sonnet and True. Over the years, he’s shared snippets of his home life experience in a number of interviews.
In honor of his birthday, we’ve rounded up 10 quotes about parenthood from Whitaker.
On His ‘Easy’ Parent Role
“I’m not a tough love guy. To be honest, my wife is much stronger with the kids than I am. They come to me when they’re trying to slip something by. I have to always take a pause, when they come and say, ‘Hey Dad, is it OK if we do this?’ So I just look at them like, ‘Have you talked to your mom about that?’ They know I’m the easy one.”
On Savoring Every Moment
“The other night I was walking down the stairs behind one of my daughters. I was tired, and she was goofing around, you know, like kids do, doing all this stupid stuff on the stairs. And I was thinking, ‘Please just go down the stairs and let’s get you to bed. It’s after your bedtime. I’ve had enough for one day.’ And then I sort of caught myself. I snapped out of it. I was like, ‘Dude, you should be dancing down the stairs behind her!’”
On His Daughter’s Dating Life
“If guys were to come around, I might take a serious tone. But I love her and trust her. Hopefully, I’ve taught her well enough to make the right decisions.”
On Preparing For A Role In ‘Where The Wild Things Are’
“The grunts and stuff I’ve done at home with my kids. When they were younger, I’d do it a lot when I’d read them the book. It’s sort of been handed down in my family because it was read to me when I was a kid. I read it to all my kids, and now they read it on their own now. They loved the scary parts.”
On Honing His Craft Around His Kids
“I tried to let go of it as much as I could. My daughter would be like, ‘Daddy, why are you talking like this?’ I would say, ‘Just remember, I’m just make believing for a little while.’ She understands.”
On His Parenting Goals
“I just keep trying to do what’s right and hope that if I love them enough that my mistakes will be washed away … [Yesterday, my daughter asked me about going to a concert with friends.] And she kept being so reasonable and rational. She came back in and said, ‘I understand that you don’t want me to go, but here’s what you don’t understand.’ Finally, I was looking at her like, ‘Don’t mess up this night for her…’ And I was like, ‘OK, we’re going to need to talk about this this weekend! But you can go.’”
On Baby Names
“I want those names to be their destiny, for my daughter to be honest and my son to be expansive.”
On Work-Life Balance
“As far as family, it’s always difficult to be away, which a film career calls for. You’re often away for months at a time. You have to try to find a balance by having your loved ones on location with you, or you can go back to visit them. There’s also the phone, Skype and other things of that nature. It’s a struggle, but this isn’t the only profession that has to deal with adverse conditions. For instance, I met a cab driver who hasn’t been back home for years. I’m lucky that I don’t have that kind of distance from my family.”
On His Kids’ Partners
“Whatever would make my children happy. It’s really about the quality of the kid they bring home. I’m very open with my daughters. I try not to put my own fears onto them. I trust they will find a man who will let them grow. They’re strong. They wouldn’t let somebody treat them wrong.”
On Having A Creative Family
“I was very idealistic when I was younger; I read poetry books, I didn’t care about working or making money. I would rather sleep on the couch than do something I didn’t believe in. They were always trying to get me to get my head out of the clouds. But they finally understand. I think that it was in our blood in some way, too, because my brothers all have artists’ souls. And even though I sheltered my kids from the business, they are very much artistic spirits too.”