Tom Hanks Talks Becoming a 'Very Young' Dad at Age 21 – and How Kids' Lives Were All 'Different'

Tom Hanks is a renowned Hollywood actor and proud father of four adult children today, but it wasn’t easy to juggle it all at the beginning of his career.

In an in-depth profile for The New York Times surrounding his upcoming Fred Rogers film A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Hanks, 63, opens up about becoming a dad for the first time at age 21, and how his older and younger children were raised differently as a result of his differing success levels.

“I start thinking about mistakes I made with my own kids and not explaining things or not being there for them. Or being so preoccupied with other things that are going on in our adult world,” the star says of his early days of fatherhood.

“My son [Colin Hanks] was born when I was very young. As well as my daughter [Elizabeth Hanks],” he adds.

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Tom Hanks and family
Tom Hanks and son Colin Hanks in 2008

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Hanks is dad to Colin, 41, and Elizabeth, 37, from his first marriage to Samantha Lewes. He married actress Rita Wilson in 1988, and they went on to have two sons: Chet, 29, and Truman, 23.

“We have this gestalt understanding because [Colin and Elizabeth] remember when their dad was just a guy trying to, you know, make the rent,” Hanks continues. “My other kids, they were born after I had established a beachhead in every way. And so their lives were just different.”

With 40-plus years of fatherhood under his belt, Hanks admits that there is no secret to being the perfect parent. The only true constant is being supportive of his kids.

Tom Hanks

“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?’ ” Hanks tells the NYT.

“You offer up that to them,” continues the Forrest Gump actor. ” ‘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.”

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood opens in U.S. theaters on Nov. 22.

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