He‘s an American figure skating champion, author and much more – and he still makes time to be the best dad he can be.
The world knows Scott Hamilton as the face of American figure skating. He’s one of the most recognized and respected athletes in the country as well as an author, professional commentator and dedicated philanthropist. (He’ll be in Cleveland on November 6 for his 11th Annual Cleveland CARES Gala to raise money for cancer education, research and survivorship.) But to most folks in Franklin, Tennessee he’s the dad who smiles as his sons Aidan (7) and Maxx (2) chase fireflies outside a local café.
Why did you leave Los Angeles to settle in Nashville?
In L.A., I saw a distinct separation between children and their parents. When you live there, you leverage your life against your lifestyle. You’re paying against the quality of life with your family. I grew up in a small town and Tracie grew up nearby in Jackson, Tenn., so we wanted that more traditional upbringing for our sons. Nashville is a great place to live with a high quality of life. It’s a church-based community with a phenomenal school system. A friend of mine said it best, “It’s got all the big city amenities and the small town accountability.” In L.A. everything has to be fabulous and bigger than life. Here you don’t need a bigger and better deal. There’s no point to it. When we moved here, the neighbors came over with meals and helped us transition in. We can go to Barbara’s Home Cooking and watch the boys chase fireflies or introduce themselves to strangers. I’ve traveled all around the world, and I’ve discovered that what distinguishes cities are the people that live there. I’ve met no finer people than the families in this community.
You became a father for the first time in your late 40s. What‘s the benefit of being an older dad?
I worked hard for so long that I’ve built a financial base and I don’t have to work 60-hour weeks to support my family. I’m able to be home more, make breakfast for the boys and drive Aidan to school. On the other hand, when Maxx heads to college, I’ll be almost 70. There are moments in my children’s lives I’d love to witness, but I may not due to my “expiration date.”
Do they know you‘re famous?
My son will ask, “Are you famous?” I’ll say, “I guess.” He’ll ask, “Am I famous?” I answer, “People usually become famous for what they accomplish, so you’ve got a lot of time to do things.” Personally, I like it best when I go to Aidan’s school and I’m just “Aidan’s dad.”
How will you help your children follow their dreams?
I’ll always encourage them. Aidan’s trying different things like hockey, soccer and baseball. Maxx says he wants to skate in the Olympics, but I wouldn’t encourage it because you have to create your own identity. Otherwise, you’ll always be compared to your dad.
Are you an easy going or strict dad?
A bit of both. I’m a communicator, not a yeller. I say, “Let’s talk about this.” We push the manners hard. I grew up in skating where everything is based on what people think of you, so you separate yourself from others by your actions. We teach the boys that your actions determine your fate.
In your book The Great Eight you talk about overcoming challenges and the secrets to happiness. How do you apply those ideas to parenting?
We, as parents, set boundaries and determine our children’s points of view. The main things you want to teach them are respect, conflict resolution and living up to the consequences of your behavior. A lot of that comes down to faith and a strong relationship with God. If you have that relationship, the rest of life can fall into order. It just makes more sense. I tell the boys, “If you own up to something, if you are honest about mistakes that you’ve made, the consequences are less. But when you don’t, there’s a separation between us and between you and your God that you’ll carry with you until it’s resolved.” That’s true for all of us.
Your wife Tracie was a nutritionist. What foods do you encourage and limit?
Nutrition is a huge deal for us. Everything we eat is organic and natural. We don’t eat peanut butter; we eat almond butter. It’s safer and the purest form of protein. The boys drink goat’s milk and we avoid gluten like crazy.
How do children benefit from having a pet like a dog?
Having a pet is important for a child. The boys love our dog Bogey. He’s their buddy and all they want to do is cuddle with them. He’s unconditionally affectionate with them. That’s a great feeling.
What baby stuff don‘t you use?
A lot of baby toys and gear are made from plastic. We worry about toxins, so we’re careful about the types of plastic things are in our home.
What‘s the greatest piece of baby gear ever invented?
The crib tent. Maxx is a climber and his mother broke her leg as a baby from climbing out of her crib. The tent protects him from himself and we know he’s secure. It levels the playing field!
How did Aidan feel when his little brother came along?
He asked, “Who do you love more, me or Maxx?” When I said, “I love you the same but in different ways,” that didn’t quite cut it. I satisfied him with, “You’re older, so I’ve loved you longer.”
Any more children planned?
I turned 52 in August. As a testicular cancer survivor, having a baby nine months after getting married was a miracle. Now we’ve got two healthy, thriving boys and that’s as far as we want to take this.
I never thought I’d be a father. In fact, I’d given up on the idea until I met Tracie. It’s been the greatest blessing ever.
Deborah Bohn writes Busy Bodies for this publication in addition to celebrity profiles. She lives in Franklin with her family.