I was so impressed with The Single Dad Detour (click on title to see my review) that I wanted to share a little more about it. This book by Tez Brooks, subtitled Directions for Fathering After Divorce, offers sound practical and spiritual guidance, often with humor. It is drawn from the depth of his personal experience and I think it will prove to be a valuable resource for single fathers. It is my hope that you will enjoy this interview and share about The Single Dad Detour with everyone you know who might benefit from it.
Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for providing this interview and giveaway.
Q: The Single Dad Detour shares insights and encouragement from your time as a single dad. You’ve said it was difficult to write it because of the memories that surfaced. What led you to write it anyway?
I really struggled for several years. I didn’t want to go there, but the Lord started working in my heart, and I remembered how there just wasn’t anything out there for me when I was going through my own divorce, especially with a Christian worldview. What was available was too preachy for me. So I wrote something that would encourage guys with a little humor and offer some practical advice.
Q: Would you be willing to share a little bit about your road to becoming a single dad?
We entered our marriage with childhood abuse that had not been dealt with, which led to a lot of selfishness, unfaithfulness and even some mental health issues that had not been diagnosed. We were clueless and trying to navigate through that with little to no help.
Divorce was just not something my side of the family did, but you can’t make someone love you, and you can’t make someone stay. So although I didn’t want a failed marriage, I saw it coming. I was married almost 10 years when I found myself single again. It was a lonely, depressing time for me, but I ran to the Lord to survive.
The kids lived with me full-time about three out of the seven years I was single. They experienced a lot of loss too. As you know, no one wins when it comes to divorce. It’s a lose-lose situation. Yet here we are on the other side by the grace of God.
Q: Many men build their lives on the idea that a wife, kids and house equal success. When that crumbles, where can they find their identity?
That’s a great question because our identity needs to be grounded in Christ to begin with. If that’s not the case when tragedy strikes, we’re in trouble. That’s exactly where I found myself. I was a Christian, but I didn’t really understand my identity as a child of God. I thought my self-worth was found in the typical American dream. When that disappeared in my 30s, I suddenly felt like I had no real value to anyone.
I had embraced the world’s view of who and what I was. In essence, I had allowed the world to place a price tag on my forehead, based on my achievements. Suddenly, I was marked down 95% and thrown into the bargain bin. It can take a long time for the message of Christ to move from our heads to our hearts. That’s what needed to happen with me. Thankfully the Holy Spirit began a work that revealed to me the value God had placed on me. It was vital to my healing.
Q: Divorce often leaves a man feeling broken and depressed, yet pressured to put on a brave front. How can a dad authentically lead his children during such a dark time?
Authenticity is important, especially when you’re trying to lead your kids through some tough transitions. There’s a certain amount of safety and refuge a child experiences from seeing his or her dad strongly brave the storms. Conversely when they see a parent falling apart and becoming an emotional basket case, it does nothing to nurture a sense of security.
Still, our children need to know we are human. I need to model for my kids that I’m nothing apart from God, and I’m not capable of doing anything without Christ. The problem with the stoic “front” is it’s not real. It’s inauthentic — a mask to hide behind. True faith in God, which comes from your heart and the very core of your beliefs, is what produces peace. That peace from God is what gives men the strength to move forward without falling apart and crying like a baby. Trusting God is also going to help us in our role as dads. Kids need to see the courage and calm that come from a heart that believes God has got this.
Q: The Single Dad Detour is also filled with practical advice on topics from what food to keep in your fridge to how to decorate your new house or apartment. Why are these things important?
Kids need a sense of home. There’s a reason sometimes why Hollywood portrays us as clueless single dads whose fridge contains nothing but soured milk. It’s because they know it’s often true to life. While a lot of single dads may have found real freedom in being able to display their Mad Max posters and their beer can lampshades, our kids need photos of Grandma on the wall and a living room floor not cluttered with tools. One of the easiest ways we can create a sense of home for our children is to learn to cook and provide a safe and warm environment for them to live in.
In the early months following my divorce I hadn’t learned this valuable lesson yet. I made the mistake of buying my son a dog bed. Yep, you heard me right. You know the big round ones for German shepherds? I know I’m an idiot, but it seemed like a great idea at the time. And my son Caleb loved it! It took about 30 seconds for it to hit me: My son’s sleeping in a dog’s bed! I got him a real bed the next day.
Q: Why are some men tempted to become absentee fathers? What are some of the consequences for their children if they do so?
As I interviewed men in my research for The Single Dad Detour, I ran into guys who said they were tempted to be absent. I think this comes from the insecurity men can develop as a single dad. There’s already an expectation from the world that they are going to fail, coupled with the normal low self-esteem that comes with a failed marriage. It can make a guy feel like maybe his child would be better off without him in his or her life.
What happens is actually the opposite. Studies show boys who don’t have their father around are more likely to end up in prison. Little girls without that strong connection to a present father are more apt to become promiscuous as a teen. It’s imperative dads cast down those lies the devil tells them and be intricately involved in their kids’ lives.
Q: How can a dad have a strong spiritual impact on his children even when not living with them all the time?
Your kids are watching you no matter where they live. For kids who watch their fathers, there’s no mistaking what their dad is passionate about. It’s going to be obvious. Kids observe when you react to things in your flesh, rather than respond with Christ’s character. I messed up a lot. I showed my anger, my selfishness, my pride . . . but I tried to live a life of repentance. I think if we make the Lord part of our everyday conversations, our kids will be able to discern our Christianity is more than a hobby — it’s a relationship with the Creator.
Q: What is the number-one thing you want single dads to get from reading The Single Dad Detour?
I’d like them to walk away encouraged to keep going strong. I want them to know the Lord is on their side. I want to challenge them to step up, yet still offer them the grace they’ll need to be able to laugh at themselves when they aren’t perfect. There’s too much pressure as it is! If dads can celebrate what they’re doing right while still leaning desperately on the Savior for hope, it will make the road they’re navigating much easier.
Learn more about Tez Brooks and The Single Dad Detour at www.everysingledad.com, on Facebook (everysingledad) or on Twitter (tezd63).
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