Part three 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: 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 just the normal low esteem that comes with a failed marriage. It can make a guy feel like maybe their child would be better off without him in their life.
What happens is actually the opposite. Studies show more boys end up in prison who don't have a father around. And little girls are more apt to be promiscuous teens without the influence of a dad. It’s imperative we encourage dads to cast down those lies the Devil tells us and to be intricately involved in our kid’s lives.
Q: Some believe the court system can be unfair to men in divorce and custody decisions. What advice do you have for those men on fighting resentment and bitterness? While many states have become more progressive and friendly toward the father having custody, there are still many judicial systems that are old-fashioned. When that happens we can fight for our rights as fathers and still have a Christ-like manner about us. Especially when dealing with our ex-spouse. Jesus was angry when he knocked over the merchant’s tables in the temple…yet he was without sin. Too often we forget to model Christ in the midst of defending our rights. Our anger toward the courts can get misdirected to others.
We often need to lay down our rights…Christ did this too. That being said, when bitterness and resentment rise up—and it will—we must fight that with prayer and forgiveness. Easier said than done. It’s so important we throw ourselves at the foot of the cross every day.
Q: Men are “fixers” by nature, but it can be tempting for them to fix parenting problems without the Lord’s help. You had one such moment after Christmas shopping with your daughter once. Tell us about that.
I had been shopping with the kids and had my fill of the holiday crowds and traffic. I just wanted to get home. My daughter was crying in the back seat because she didn't get to have her photo taken with Santa at the mall. My impatience was building but I didn't expect it to boil over like it did.
Her whining wouldn't stop so in a moment of exasperation I screamed out “Be quiet! “Santa’s not real, he’s dead!” The crying stopped as she blinked in disbelief. I knew I had messed up as soon as I said it. I could see by the look in her eyes, my words slapped her in the face. No Father of the Year Award this year I suppose. My daughter started her crying again but this time it was more of a high-pitched squeal. “Nooo, Santa’s not dead!”
I remained silent all the way home. Considering how I might cover over my mistake. But there was no hiding my outburst and all I could do to make it right was apologize. When we got home I hugged her and asked for forgiveness. She sunk into my chest as we rocked back and forth. I realized that night I must make it a habit to initiate an apology when I screw up. Even more, I learned I’m a pathetic father without God’s grace and help.
Q: How can a dad have a strong spiritual impact on their children even when not living when 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 every day conversations our kids will be able to discern that 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. That the Lord is on their side. I want to challenge them to step up yet still offer hope and the grace 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.
QUESTION FOR READERS: Tell us what you feel like you are doing right as a single dad.