Lovely Quotes About Parenthood From Hugh Jackman

The actor and his wife, Deborra-Lee Furness, have a son, Oscar, and daughter, Ava.
Jackman and his family pose with Mickey Mouse outside Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland on April 23, 2009, in Anaheim, California.
Jackman and his family pose with Mickey Mouse outside Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland on April 23, 2009, in Anaheim, California.

Hugh Jackman has many thoughts about the highs and lows of parenthood.

The actor and his wife, Deborra-Lee Furness, have a son, Oscar, and daughter, Ava. Since becoming a parent, he’s opened up about his difficult path to having children, what his dad taught him about fatherhood and more.

In honor of his 51st birthday Saturday, here are 16 thoughtful parenting quotes from Jackman.

On A Parent’s Love

“The love I have for my wife is so intense, but nothing prepared me for the love I have for my kids. That feeling is overwhelming. The thought of them being in any trouble, any pain. … I would do anything to avoid it. I would jump in front of a bus for them. I had about an hour at a supermarket where I lost my son and let me tell you, it was the longest hour of my life.”

On Fertility Struggles

“It was painful. It’s not easy. You put a lot of time and effort into it, so it’s emotional. I think any parent can relate ― trying to have children is wonderful and when you feel as though that’s not going to happen, there’s a certain anxiety that goes with it. We thought we’d have a kid or two biologically and then adopt. But when we decided we’d had enough of IVF, we went ahead with adoption.”

On Adoption

“From the moment we started the adoption process, all the anxiety went away. I don’t think of them as adopted ― they’re our children. Deb and I are believers in ... I suppose you could call it destiny. We feel things happened the way they are meant to. Obviously, biologically wasn’t the way we were meant to have children. Now, as we go through life together, sure there are challenges, but everyone’s in the right place with the right people. It sounds airy-fairy, but it’s something we feel very deeply ... A while back, there was a lot of shame attached to it and parents wouldn’t tell their kids they were adopted. What’s great is that the focus is now shifting to the care of the child. We were very fortunate and open ― I can’t go into details because of the privacy of the birth parents, but I can tell you it was amicable. Adoption is a wonderful thing to do.”

On His Parenting Advice

“In the first month, everyone is going to tell you it’s the most amazing thing that has ever happened and a lot of the time you will think that. But, I promise you, there are going to be some mornings when you haven’t slept, and your child has thrown up on you seven times, and you’re not going to be thinking that this is the greatest thing that has ever happened to you. Just know that it’s OK to feel that way. Just make sure you’ve someone you can ring up and bitch to. Also, once you take the kid out for a drive to put him to sleep, that is your life for the next 18 months. Don’t do it. And I know you’re going to do it and you’re going to go, damnit, Hugh Jackman told me not to do it. But, you’re going to make mistakes, and it’s all going to be great.”

On Self-Care For Parents

“Before we had kids, Deb and I made a pretty simple but powerful choice to look each other in the eye at every crossroads in life. Those crossroads are sometimes big, sometimes they’re small, sometimes you don’t even realize they’re crossroads until you look back. But at those moments we said we’d ask each other, ‘Is this good or bad for our marriage?’ ― or now we’ve got kids, ‘Is this good or bad for our family?’ And as often as possible, we’d do the thing that is good for our family. Sometimes that can mean doing something for yourself. I don’t think it benefits anyone if you’re consistently denying yourself something that you love for the sake of the family. No-one wants a father or a husband who’s miserable.”

On Traveling With Kids

“Our kids are professional travelers now, they’re better than we are. Deb and I were on a plane yesterday and there was a baby crying in the row behind. We just looked at each other and said, ‘It’s so good we’ve moved past that.’ I remember one flight to Australia, when I walked Oscar up and down [the aisle] about 150 times. He’d crawl up, I’d carry him back, up and back, up and back. The flight attendants thought it was sweet the first 50 times. I was like, ‘Are you ever going to go to sleep?’”

On Parenting Teens

“My son is about to leave high school, and my daughter is about to go into high school. It’s amazing to just have conversations with them. But it took a bit of readjusting. It went from ‘Hey, guys, these are the rules, we don’t do that,’ to having to give them reasons why ... It’s nice to go to the movies and see something you both want to see. It’s no longer ‘Oh good, let’s watch ‘Shrek’ for the 120th time.’ I mean, I love ‘Shrek’ but not 120 times.”

On Teaching His Kids To Give Back

“My kids have so many advantages. And I want them to know that they have a responsibility to use those advantages to help others. My kids are constantly reminded about how lucky we are in our family. We’re ridiculously blessed. We live in a beautiful home in places that other people dream of. But in terms of the world, we’re even more blessed. One out of six people doesn’t have clean drinking water. ... Their poverty is something we can fix; that’s something we can feel. You have to feel something to fix it. You can’t just talk about the world’s problems occasionally and think, ‘Oh, it would be good to help.’ To really change the world, you have to feel it ... I was brought up with parents who both did volunteer work and community work. They gave back. After my father retired, he donated his services as an accountant to developing nations for three years. So it always felt normal to me to give back. I want it to feel normal for my kids. ... The more we can see the world as a whole, and the less as ‘your team, my team,’ the better we will be. I am ridiculously blessed. I don’t need any more money. I’m totally good. So if I can use whatever power I have now to share with others, that’s my hope. And I want my kids to be with me every step of the way.”

On Lessons In Financial Responsibility

“[My father] is the sweetest man and has always been supportive of me, particularly of my acting, and that’s amazing considering he was an accountant. He’s an ordered, happy man who’s worked hard all his life. I’ve learnt so many great qualities from him. He’s not materialistic in any way, and neither are his kids. I’m now in a position where people try to give me free stuff but, for me, stuff is a burden. And thanks to him, none of us has ever been in debt. My dad paid for school and sports expenses but, from the age of 12, I paid for my own clothes and entertainment. I pass that on to my children, but Deb does the opposite. When they’re 18 and head out, I’ll hand them a few hundred dollars and say ‘Ring me if you get into trouble’; Deb will slip them a credit card and whisper, ‘Don’t tell Dad!’”

On Father’s Day

“I’m expecting a card and breakfast. I usually make breakfast on Sunday ― pancakes for everyone ― so I’d be disappointed if I didn’t at least get that. But, you know, it will be business as usual by lunchtime and all ‘Babe, can you take out the garbage?’”

On The Reality Of Parenthood

“[Fatherhood is] unbelievable, tiring, magical ... the most challenging role I’ve ever had. ... Look, kids have a way of pushing your buttons more than anyone else. If there’s stuff in your life you haven’t worked through ― as a parent, you’re going to have to work through it.”

On What His Father Taught Him About Parenting

“Parenting seems very different now. I don’t ever remember my parents talking to me about what I wanted to study or what university I wanted to go to. I don’t even remember my father saying have you done your homework? We were left to our own devices to make a lot of decisions. But my father did always talk about education and I remember a key moment that frustrated me at the time, but looking back now I think was an amazing bit of parenting. I was offered a job on ‘Neighbours’ (an Australian soap opera), but at the same time, on the same weekend, I was offered a place at the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts, which was a prestigious drama school. So I had this choice: Do I go and become a working actor on a two-year contract? Or do I go and study? ... I asked [my father]: ‘What should I do?’ And he said: ‘I can’t answer that for you. You have to make your own decision.’ I remember going: ‘Come on, make it easy for me! Just tell me what to do!’ ... When I told my dad my decision [to go to school], he said, ‘Oh, thank God! I’m so happy you chose that!’ ‘Why didn’t you tell me that,’ I said. ‘It was your decision,’ he said. ‘But it’s very important that you get educated and go into the world knowing everything you can possibly know. Never stop learning!’”

On The Power Of Parenthood

“Kids are the greatest joy. No matter what’s going on in the day, you can walk in that front door and it all goes away. Particularly with Ava ― she’s a mini-Deb and so funny. She said to me the other day, ‘I’m just like Mum. I’m always right!’ And you know what? She is.

On Siblings

“Oscar and Ava fight, like all kids fight. But it really disturbs my wife: ‘Why aren’t they getting on? Oh, my God! It’s going to be years of therapy ― they’re saying terrible things to each other!’ But I look at it like, ’This is nothing! This is amateur hour!′ My brother and I were clawing each other’s eyes out at one point.”

On Helping Kids Pursue Their Dreams

“I believe in letting kids be kids for as long as possible. I do constantly talk to them about giving everything their best and doing the thing you love, because I have managed to find my way into a job that doesn’t feel like a job, and if my kids can be lucky enough to do that, then that is the goal, I think. That is the Holy Grail. So just follow their passions and then work hard at it. Because even the thing you love to do is going to be a pain at some point.”

On What He’s Learned As A Dad

“When your focus innately, deeply, one hundred percent becomes these kids in your life and their well being, it just seems to put everything into perspective. Being a father has taught me so much.”

CORRECTION: Due to an editing error, this article previously misstated that this was Jackman’s 50th, rather than his 51st, birthday.