Saturday, December 27, 2014

Interview #2 with Tez Brooks

Part two of a 3-part interview with Tez Brooks,
Author of The Single Dad Detour: Directions for Fathering After Divorce

The Single Dad Detour: Directions for Fathering After Divorce(Kregel/February 27, 2015/ISBN: 978-0825443602 /$14.99).

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?
You know 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 their 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 yet, they need to know we are human. I need to model for my kids that I’m nothing apart from God and that Im not capable of doing anything without Christ. So here’s the thing: the problem about a stoic “front” is it’s exactly that…a front that’s not real. It’s inauthentic. A mask, to hide behind. But true faith in God, which comes from your heart, the core of your beliefs…that’s what produces peace. That peace from God is what gives us men the strength to move forward without falling apart and crying like a baby. Trusting God is going to help us as dads. That's the thing kids need to see….the courage and stoicism that comes 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 and I talk about this in The Single Dad Detour.  There’s a reason why Hollywood portrays us as clueless single dads whose fridge contains nothing but sour milk. It’s because they know it’s often true to life. Now I know a lot of single dads out there have found real freedom in being able to display their Mad Max posters and their beer can lampshades. But our kids need photos of grandma and a living room floor that's not cluttered with tools. One of the easiest ways we can create a sense of home for our loved ones is to learn to cook and provide a safe environment for them to live in.

In the early months following my divorce I hadn’t learn 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 me about 30 seconds to hit me….My son’s sleeping in a dog’s bed. I got him a real bed the next day.

Q: It’s common for single dads to feel overwhelmed by their financial and relational responsibilities. How is The Single Dad Detour designed to bring meaningful change to a busy dad’s life? I wanted to be intentional in addressing this very issue. That’s why I developed an interactive element at the end of each chapter so they’d have some take-aways. Readers have an opportunity to reflect by answering some hard questions, reading a scripture passage, then planning some next steps. They can even quote a suggested prayer before moving on to the next chapter. These things are key to going beyond just reading a book, to discovering lasting change.

Q: You have now been remarried for 13 years and have two young children. How did navigating the difficult years of single parenting prepare you for the challenge of a blended family? I found I grew in several ways. First of all I was stripped bare of all my pride, arrogance, selfishness and more. Then the Lord spent those next 7 years re-building me into more of what he wanted me to be. My wife Christine has always said she would not have been attracted to the kind of man I was before. I can’t say that I blame her, God’s timing is perfect.

As far as being a better father. I consistently see how my single years changed me spiritually, emotionally and relationally so I could be a better dad both for my older kids and the two daughters Christine and I had together. It’s difficult to see that in the midst of your valley. Hindsight clears that up a lot.

QUESTION FOR READERS: When emotions arise in front of the kids about the divorce (sadness or anger) how do you deal with it?

Monday, December 15, 2014

Interview #1 with Tez Brooks

First of a 3-part interview with Tez Brooks,
Author of The Single Dad Detour: Directions for Fathering After Divorce

The Single Dad Detour: Directions for Fathering After Divorce (Kregel/February 27, 2015/ISBN: 978-0825443602 /$14.99).

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: Why did you use the metaphor of cars and navigating the road in your book? I wanted it to appeal to your average Joe. And that theme actually just seemed to come naturally as I began writing. I kept comparing a divorce to a car accident. I compared the similarities between finding your way through that wreck and navigating a road trip. Those metaphors just kept coming until I realized a theme was developing. I liked it because men and cars seem to go together.  

Q: Would you be willing to share a little bit about your road to becoming a single dad? Well we entered our marriage with childhood abuse that had not been dealt with, lots of selfishness, unfaithfulness, and even some mental health issues that had not been diagnosed. And 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 cant 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 in order to survive.

The kids lived with me full-time about 3 out of the 7 years I was single. They experienced a lot of loss too. As you know, no one wins. 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 a house equals success. When that crumbles down, 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 there when tragedy strikes, we’re in trouble. That’s where I found myself. I was a Christian but I didn't really understand my identity as a child of God. I thought the American dream was where my self worth was. When that disappeared I was suddenly a man in my 30s with no real value to anyone. At least that’s what I believed.

I had embraced the world’s view of who and what I was. In essence I allowed the world to place a price tag on my forehead and suddenly that tag was marked down 95% and I was thrown in the bargain bin. It can take a long time for the message of Christ to get from our heads to our hearts. That's what needed to happen with me. Thankfully the Holy Spirit began a work to reveal the value God placed on me. It was vital to my healing.

RESPONSE QUESTION FOR READERS: What helped you to heal after your own divorce or separation?