The Backstreet Boys singer talks parenting three kids under 6, what he's learned from his bandmates about fatherhood, and how he'll be spending the holidays with his family.
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An image of Nick Carter on a colorful background.
Credit: Getty Images.

Backstreet Boys singer Nick Carter was at a lūʻau in Honolulu when bandmate AJ McLean's then 2-year-old daughter struck up a cute conversation. "I'll never forget Lyric sitting next to me just talking, but she wasn't making any sense," Carter recalls. "I was like, 'Oh, really? Yeah! What else?' [AJ and his wife Rochelle] were laughing their butts off because his daughter gravitated towards me."

Fast forward two years and like McLean, Carter's now dad to two daughters—Saoirse, 2, and Pearl, 7 months—as well as 5-year-old son Odin. And whether it's crawling around with Pearl or whipping up waffles for Odin and Saoirse, the 41-year-old musician relishes domestic bliss in Las Vegas, Nevada.

It's a contrast to the nineties when the Backstreet Boys became global superstars, who were plastered on T-shirts and bedroom walls. Two decades later, Carter chuckles as I show him a fridge magnet of him I discovered while back in my childhood bedroom in New Zealand.

The level of success which turns you into a fridge magnet can come with challenges and Carter has been open about experiencing substance abuse issues before being diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, a potentially fatal heart condition. He's since turned his life around, getting healthy, marking nearly 30 years with the Backstreet Boys, releasing solo music, writing the 2016 film Dead 7, and competing on Dancing with the Stars in 2015. In early 2022, he's also partnering with Humbl to release a new solo album via blockchain, a digital system used for NFTs (non-fungible tokens), cryptocurrency, tickets, payments, and more.

But it's the family life he's built with wife, Lauren Kitt Carter, which has brought him the most joy. They feel blessed to have three healthy kids after experiencing fertility struggles and miscarriages, and witnessing Pearl spend five days in NICU due to post-birth complications.

Becoming a dad has also made Carter more passionate about giving back to those less fortunate. On December 16, he's hosting Home 4 the Holidays, a virtual cooking session for Nevada-based Cure 4 the Kids Foundation, which helps children battling cancer and other diseases. The event will include famous chef Nyesha Arrington, some celebrity special guests calling in, and a performance by Carter. To also benefit the organization, he recently collaborated with bandmate McLean on his nail polish line, Ava Dean Beauty, to create three shades named after the Carter kids.

Ahead of the fundraiser, Carter chatted about family life, what his bandmates taught him about fatherhood, and his biggest hope for 2022.

How have you found transitioning from life on the road with the Backstreet Boys to full-time dad to three kids under 6 during a pandemic?

It's an adjustment. We're still being cautious and careful. I have two kids in school and worry about getting an email that someone's been exposed. But we're doing the best we can.

It seems you've really enjoyed this extended period with family, but there was a time you never wanted kids. Why and what was the turning point?

When I met the Backstreet Boys, I came from a lower-class family that struggled with money, which tended to be an issue. But I always wanted to take care of my siblings and parents. It's always been in me to be a provider and caretaker and I've always tried to give love, even though sometimes it's never received back. Now, my children give me unconditional love and it's everything I dreamed of.

Now that I have children, I also realize how they have an opportunity to flourish and it's mine and Lauren's jobs to shower them with love and good fundamentals ... and give them every opportunity to be educated, loved, and live in a peaceful household where they feel safe.

How did watching your bandmates become parents further shape your views on parenting?

They're four brothers, who have been incredible influences and I'm forever grateful to them for showing me what true happiness is—whether that's from their parenting or upbringings. Seeing them with their children on the road or how they celebrate the holidays, I've adopted those fundamentals because they're incredible fathers and I'm proud to be their little brother.

What were your impressions of juggling fatherhood and popstar life from seeing bandmate Brian Littrell welcome son Baylee in 2002?

He was the first to become a father and didn't care what people thought. We were at the height of our career, when managers maybe went, "That's not a good look. It might affect the business." He stood strong with his beliefs and now has an incredibly talented son, who he shares a great bond with. I strive for that.

What's your greatest parenting takeaway from your other bandmates?

I always admired how AJ raised his girls and related to them, like with nail polish. He's such a loving, nurturing father.

Kevin [Richardson] has an old-school, country mentality, being from Kentucky. I appreciate and respect some of those old-school values.

What I love about Howie [Dorough] is he's been doing projects geared towards his children, whether it's a musical, TV shows, or music. I'm trying to figure out ways to do more as a family and integrate my profession, like Howie.

What Christmas traditions do you and Lauren have?

She serves pozole, this spicy soup, every Christmas and they also do tamales and Spanish food, which we integrate with the traditional honey ham and turkey.

I'm also forced to put on matching Christmas pajamas. That's another thing Brian was good at—matching with Baylee. We used to make fun of that and now I'm doing it!

This year, we're also doing Elf on the Shelf, where you hide elves around the house … you gotta read the book!

What does Odin want for Christmas?

Odin's asked for a turtle. He loves nature and animals, so I think Santa might bring him a turtle!

And you?

Material things don't matter to me anymore. The smile on my children's faces, the food I make them, the books I read—simple things are what I love. The gift of love, joy, and peace in my household is what I care about.

I want that for the world. It sounds cliché, but I'd love for us all to get through the pandemic and come together over the holidays to love, forgive, and go into 2022 feeling connected.

Tickets for Home 4 the Holidays are $25. Register at cure4thekids.org.