Al Roker has been gracing our television screens for decades — and he's shared plenty of wisdom about being a dad during his career.
As a father of three, Al has seen it all: His oldest daughter Courtney married recently, finally making Al the father of the bride, a title he sais he never expected to have. He's also celebrated his daughter Leila's college graduation and spent the pandemic bonding with his son, Nick.
To celebrate Father's Day, TODAY Parents rounded up Al's best comments about being a dad, raising kids and trying to be the best parent he can be.
On navigating parenting styles:
While talking about his book, "Been There, Done That," which Al wrote with his wife Deborah Roberts in 2016, he spoke candidly with Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager about the different ways they parent their kids. Deborah is more hands-on, while Al is happy to let the kids work it out themselves.
"Moms tend to be more helicopter, they're hovering ... But I think we also need the dad, more hands-off approach," said Al. "Let them be, let them take chances, take risks."
However, there's room for both parenting styles in a marriage.
"You have to let each other have their space to do what they do better," Al said.
On raising his son, who has developmental delays:
In April 2019, Al shared some sweet comments on what it was like raising his youngest child, Nick. Al said that Nick, who was 16 then, was "somewhere on the (autism) spectrum" and "maybe obsessive-compulsive."
"'You must be proud of your son,' someone will say. Yes, I am. More than they'll ever know," Al wrote in an Instagram caption. "The obstacles in this kid's way were things that might have tripped up many others. Not Nick, not even with the disabilities he was born with."
The two have always shared a close bond.
"I look at him and all that he does, and I want to be a better person for him,'' Al told Hoda.
In 2020, Al said that their relationship was only strengthened by the time they spent together amid the pandemic.
"I've loved being around him," Al said. "My only regret is my other two kids aren't here. I watch him, and he obviously has some challenges, but it doesn't stop him."
On letting kids make mistakes:
Al said in 2019 that he thinks it's important to be "like our parents" and give kids space to be "allowed to make mistakes."
"We want to make sure everything is just so for our kids," he said. "And with our parents, there was space."
"You went outside, you went to the park," Al continued. "There were slides, they were made out of galvanized metal. You'd get on there, you'd get third-degree burns going down! But you were expected to go out and when the street lights came on, you came in. And they gave you your space. I think sometimes we can be a little too hands-on with our kids. Maybe sometimes we should be a little more like our parents."
On modern fatherhood:
During a conversation with Carson Daly and Craig Melvin, Al talked about how work has changed for modern dads. When he adopted his first child, Courtney, he was only offered one day of paternity leave, but now, more companies are taking steps to give dads the time they need to bond with their little ones.
"It's a little easier to get that family time," Al said. "I think that's been a big change and allowed us the ability, to have permission, to be dads."
In 2014, Al said that dads "suffer the same guilt and the same stress" as moms do about missing milestones for work. While he's been able to avoid missing too many events, he did have to miss one birthday.
"And they remind you!" he said.
On following his father's example:
Al has often spoken of his late father, Albert Lincoln Roker Sr. In 2014, Al said that his father always showed people how much they mattered to him, something he tries to emulate with his own family and loved ones.
"He was not afraid to show emotion or affection," Al said, noting that that was unusual at the time. "I try to live by that example."
Al's kids aren't always fond of that, though — especially his son, who was 15 at the time.
"A couple of years ago, (Nick) was like, 'Dad, you can't call me sweetheart,'" Al said.
In 2015, Al said that showing love was one of the most important things his father ever taught him.
"One of the greatest lessons I learned from my dad was to make sure your children know that you love them," Al said. "He made sure, at the end of every conversation, that we knew he loved us. If it was on the phone, it was an 'I love you.' If you were in person, it was a hug and a kiss and 'I love you.' And there's nothing better."
Al said that even towards the end of his father's life, his children always knew how much they meant to him.
"When I realized I most appreciated it was when he was dying. Especially at the end, when he lost the ability to talk," Al said. "You didn't need to say anything, because you already knew."
On raising Black children:
During a candid conversation following the death of George Floyd in 2020, Al and Craig Melvin talked about raising Black sons in the United States. For Al, it's been his "job as a father" to make sure his son Nick, 18, who has developmental disabilities, understands how he may be seen by others.
"If your friends are doing something, especially your white friends are doing something, you can't do those same things because if the police come, you will be the one that's targeted," Al said. "So my job as a father is to say 'Yes, this is out there, but you've got to be aware of it.' You can't let it rule your life. And I've gotta help him find that balance."
On welcoming a new child:
Before Dylan Dreyer and Brian Fichera welcomed their first child in 2016, Al gave Brian some great advice about being a new dad.
"Once the baby arrives, no matter what Dylan asks, you answer in the affirmative," Al said. "Because no matter what your argument is, the fact that a human being has come outside of her body trumps anything you can say.
"That's just it," he continued. "Like ... 'well, I worked really late too last night.' 'Yes, but I had a human being come out of my body.' You can't argue that one and you can't win that one."
On stepping into his father's shoes:
In 2005, Al wrote the book "Big Shoes," in which he and 45 other celebrities talked about their relationships with their fathers. In Al's section of the book, he talked about what it's like trying to fill his father's "big shoes."
"No matter who your father is or was, whether a great man or someone who left a lot to be desired, there is something in the man that you can learn from, something that will make you a better person," Al wrote. "I never thought about the time I would have to step into my own father’s big shoes. He was always there to fill them. Then suddenly, he wasn’t."
"Now I have had to step into them; for my mother, my siblings, my own children," Al continued. "I have become my father. I hope that it’s not too tight a fit or too loose. I would hate to have to take them off."
On being a dad:
Earlier this year, when NBC's Gadi Schwartz announced that he was expecting his first child, Al got all choked up while giving him some paternal advice.
"It's the greatest thing that will ever happen to you, and you will know that your heart beats outside your body to somebody else's," Al said. "And no matter what happens, these are always your children."
"It doesn't matter what you do; whatever your job is, your job is just making sure that each of these children, whoever they are, can be whoever they want to be," Al said.
To Al and all the dads out there, Happy Father's Day.