Friday, March 27, 2015

Brooks offers authentic, down-to-earth wisdom from one dad to another

 Part 1 of an interview with Tez Brooks,
Author of The Single Dad Detour: Directions for Fathering After Divorce

In The Single Dad Detour: Directions for Fathering After Divorce (Kregel/February 27, 2015/ISBN: 978-0825443602/$14.99), Tez Brooks offers authentic, down-to-earth wisdom from one dad to another. This much-needed guidebook addresses the spiritual and emotional health of fathers as well as their financial and practical arrangements. Using the experience of his own divorce and the real-life stories of other single dads, The Single Dad Detour is a humorous and invaluable companion for single dads at all stages of their journey.

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.

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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 merchants’ 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. That is easier said than done, though, which is why it’s so important we throw ourselves at the foot of the cross every day.

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: You have now been remarried for thirteen years and have two young children. How did navigating the difficult years of single parenting prepare you for the challenge of a blended family?

As a man, I found I grew in several ways. First of all, I was stripped bare of all my pride, arrogance, selfishness and more. The Lord spent those seven years of singleness 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 I blame her. Thankfully, God’s timing is perfect.

That time as a single dad also made me 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, though, when you’re in the midst of your valley. Hindsight provides a lot of perspective.

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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