While he prepares to celebrate his first Father’s Day having fulfilled his dream of welcoming a second child, Nick Carter is reflecting on his fondest memories with his own dad, Robert Carter. The Carter family patriarch passed away, aged 65, in 2017, with Nick tweeting he was “heartbroken” the next day.
Three years on from the loss, the Backstreet Boy spoke to ET Canada about the life-changing discoveries he has made about Robert since his death, his earliest memories with his dad and how they’ve influenced his own parenting.
“I have great memories with my father and one that stands out is the time he bought me my first go-kart,” recalls Carter, dad to Odin, 4, and Saoirse, 8-months-old, who he and wife Lauren Kitt Carter welcomed in October following miscarriage heartache.
“I was around eight-years-old and begged and begged for a go-kart for Christmas then woke up one morning and it was there. I wanted to ride it so badly, but it was raining, so then I begged him to let me go to this little church with a bicycle track, where I rode it around for an hour.”
“Finally, I hit a puddle, slid off the track and ran underneath a fence which almost took my head off!” he continues. “I burned the back of my arm on the muffler. That was one of the things my dad was into – boats, race-cars, building cars. So, he got me a go-kart and it was such a great memory.”
While Carter laughs he’ll be keeping Odin “away from go-karts as much as I can” while he’s still young, he does hope to pass Robert’s love for boating onto his children. Having grown up in sunny Florida with Robert, mom Jane, brother Aaron and sisters Angel, BJ and late Leslie, Carter developed a love for the ocean from a young age. And despite some challenging times with his family through the years, he holds precious memories on the water with Robert.
“There’s new traditions I’m trying to pass onto my son, but one thing my dad loved was boating, so when things lighten up out there, I’ll definitely take him boating more,” Carter says. “That’s something that’s part of me that’s never going to go away and was implemented by my dad.”
Thanks to a breakthrough in recent years, Carter has something else more special to pass onto his children – new family connections. Robert was adopted and Carter has spent endless hours researching his paternal heritage, finally finding answers following a decade-long quest.
“It’s something very dear to me, which I’ve been on a mission for over the past 10 years, ever since the ancestry/DNA websites were created,” he explains. “My father never knew his real dad and I was always interested in my true heritage. I hit many roadblocks, then in the last couple of years, it started coming together when I met my dad’s half-brother, who he never knew he had, and a cousin.”
“I started meeting people I’d never known and they embraced me and introduced me to their families and worlds,” Carter continues. “I’m still in that discovery process, but I’ve found three generations back and what my true blood last name is – it’s not Carter and I’m not ready to reveal it, but I’m working on something extraordinary. I annoyed Lauren and my family with this for years and no one knew if anything would come of it, but I was determined to solve the mystery!”
Carter’s drive to uncover his paternal heritage was amplified by becoming a father himself. “My children will now know where their great-great-grandparents came from, so it’s also for them to know the missing pieces in their lives. And, it’s funny how it ties in with the Backstreet Boys’ DNA album! AJ came up with the DNA idea, then everything happened together.”
The boy band’s DNA World Tour was postponed to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, meaning Carter will get to spend Father’s Day with his family. While relishing the domestic normalcy that quarantine has allowed, juggling two kids has been challenging.
“I’m happy to have my mother-in-law helping out,” he says. “Saoirse’s crawling around and not too hard to handle. Odin’s homeschooling and what’s really missing for him is interaction with other kids, so I find myself playing ‘Transformers’ a lot!”
As for how the couple are explaining the pandemic to Odin, Carter’s grateful that he’s too young to fully grasp what’s going on. “We speak with him and he’s aware there are things going on in the world right now, but I don’t know if he understands completely since he’s only 4-years-old.”
When fatherhood’s not keeping him busy, the “Dead 7” filmmaker has been giving back to those in need. As well as helping provide 2000 VOSS water bottles to hospital workers in New York, he and his bandmates made a virtual visit to the Children’s National Hospital, where staffers pulled off a surprise “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)” performance. “We just wanted to say hi and lift patients’ spirits … we didn’t expect all the workers to dance to our song!”
Meanwhile, a dad post about how glad Carter was to have found a product to relieve Saoirse’s teething pain kickstarted a charity reading, which benefitted Las Vegas shelter The Shade Tree and food bank Three Square. And, while he teased a possible new solo record deal at Christmas, music is on hold for now. “Everything right now is about being home with family, so I’m not working on music. I’m taking this time to have a break, reflect and pause. But once things loosen up, I’ll start doing things on a solo front. I’m happy I’m home, but it’s a double-edged sword because I love being an entertainer, so I can’t wait to get back out there.”