The actor has six children with three women, and while he loves his kids, sometimes, he's saddened by them growing up.
Being a parent isn't the easiest thing. You have to ensure your child's wellbeing until they are adults, break up their silly fights, and shower them with hoards of attention. And, when you have half a dozen kids, things get that much more chaotic at home. Whether you're an Oscar-winning actor or a teacher, kids demand attention and they don't care who you are outside the home because to them you're their "dad."
Robert De Niro, 76, is a father to six children, and having a full house keeps things interesting at his end. The Taxi Driver actor was married to singer, Diahnne Abbott, for more than a decade. During that time, he had adopted Abbott’s daughter Drena, 48, who is now a mother. Abbott and he had a son Raphael, 44, who is now an NYC real estate broker. They are his oldest children.
Abbott and he divorced in 1988 and The Godfather actor dated model Toukie Smith a few years later. In 1995, the couple had twin boys by in-vitro fertilization. The boys, Aaron and Julian, were delivered in 1995 and are now 25 years old. They stay away from media attention as much as possible, according to Rare.us. However, Smith and De Niro's relationship didn't last and he eventually married Grace Hightower in 1997.
They welcomed their first child together, son Elliot, in 1998, but things went awry between them and they split up a year later. However, they eventually reconciled and renewed their vows in 2004. In 2011, the Goodfellas actor's sixth child, Helen, was born via surrogate when he was 68 years old. The Big Wedding actor split from Hightower in 2018, after almost 20 years of being married, according to Heavy.com. He had called her a "wonderful mother" while confirming their split.
"Grace and I have two beautiful children together. We are entering a period of transition in our relationship which is a difficult but constructive process," he said in a statement, according to Daily Mail. "I honor Grace as a wonderful mother and ask for privacy and respect from all as we proceed to develop our roles as partners in parenting."
In 2016, the actor had revealed that his youngest son has autism. Rare.us quoted him saying, “Grace and I have a child with autism, and we believe it is critical that all of the issues surrounding the causes of autism be openly discussed and examined."
He had previously hinted that he had a special needs child when he during a 2013 interview with Katie Couric, De Niro broke down when speaking about the Silver Linings Playbook. The director of the film, David O. Russell, had written it for his son who has bipolar disorder. "I don’t like to get emotional," De Niro said, as per PEOPLE. "But I know exactly what he goes through."
The Irishman actor usually keeps his private life private but when speaking about his family, he often reveals his vulnerable side. "There are great moments and moments of sadness," he previously told PEOPLE of raising his kids. "Sometimes you’re the last person they want to deal with. It’s like when you walk your kids to school and they get older and they don’t want to hold your hand or kiss you goodbye."
Most of his kids are now adults and he said that he's grateful that they live nearby. "Everybody’s in New York and, hopefully, my younger kids will go to college in New York and find something they want to do so they’ll stay in the city," De Niro told the Los Angeles Times. "I like the kids to be around. If they want to go to college here and live at home, I won’t have a problem with that."
Though, it's not always roses and butterflies as a parent. "I love my children, just being with them," the Oscar winner, 76, said, as per AOL. "It’s not easy. Sometimes it’s fun and you love your kids, and sometimes you want to kill them!" He added, "Then when you have the good moments, you forget about the ones that weren’t good."
After his and Hightower's divorce, they had been embroiled in a bitter custody battle over their youngest child, Helen, 8. It was solved in February 2020 before a custody trial could take place and The Intern actor said he felt "great" about it, according to Daily Mail.
One parenting advice he shared with the Los Angeles Times was: "I try to get them to realize that it’s important to be consistent in things in order to be skilled at them. I find myself saying things like, ‘You’ll thank me later.'"