celebrity single parents


Keeping up with Kourtney Kardashian and Scott Disick has never been easy. Their toxic, rocky relationship has played out – or staged out – for years on the E! reality show Keeping Up With the Kardashians, and Scott’s antics have been must-see TV. Emotional meltdowns, alcohol and drug-fueled party binges, and worse – Persistent rumors that he was cheating on Kourt. Meanwhile, Kourtney’s been portrayed as the doting might-as-well-be-single mom, pulling most if not all of the parenting slack with kids Mason, 5, Penelope, 3 and Reign, 7 months, while Scott plays the villain, shirking his daddy duties to make club appearances and party with his boys.

But single motherhood may in fact be the new reality for Kourtney now that she’s reportedly dumped Scott for good after pictures of him canoodling with ex-girlfriend and fashion stylist Chloe Bartoli in the south of France surfaced in late June. And sure, the Kardashians aren’t like you and me, but that doesn’t mean Kourtney will have an easier time going it alone. Reports suggest the new single mom isn’t doing so well, but is keeping a smile on her face for the kiddos while she bakes cupcakes.

“Single parenting is always a difficult thing to navigate, even with celebrity-style help,” says Allen Wagner, an L.A.-based marriage and family therapist. And caring for kids as young as Kourtney’s is especially challenging. “It’s difficult for children that age to express disappointment or frustration when their parents split, but at the same time they’re really needy.” As a result, Wagner says, many newly single parents have a tough time coping when they can no longer ‘tag out’ and ‘tag’ their partner in. But there are ways to keep it together, survive and yes, thrive while flying solo.

Find your village.

Don’t be afraid to enlist help. Wagner says every single parent needs a trusted support network of friends and family to help get through the bad times and celebrate the good. Which is exactly what Kourtney’s doing. Just days after the news broke of her split with Scott, Kourtney took Penelope to Disneyland to ring in her third birthday — in matching Tinkerbelle outfits — along with her famous auntie Kim and cousin North. Grandma Kris Jenner and her boyfriend Corey Gamble tagged along too.

Don’t erase your ex from the picture.

Sure, Scott seriously screwed up, and he knows it. But that didn’t stop him from sending a sweet birthday message to his little girl on Instagram. “1 of the only things I’m proud off about myself. Happybdayp,” he wrote, with a collage of photos of Penelope in other costumes. You certainly can’t blame Kourtney for not inviting him to the birthday outing, says Wagner, but she shouldn’t give Penelope the impression that daddy chose to go MIA. “Each parent plays a significant role in emotionally supporting their children,” says Wagner, “and Scott is a significant part of his kids’ lives.”

Try a little tenderness.

Scott’s hard-partying, bad boy behavior doesn’t mean he doesn’t love his children. “It indicates a combination of addictions, but more importantly, it’s also a sign that he feels overwhelmed,” says Wagner. “It’s common for parents of young children to feel they’ve lost their identity once they have to become responsible for others instead of just being selfish.” And let’s not forget Scott’s parents died within two months of each other last year and that he’s obviously still dealing with that loss — not productively, but recklessly. Kourtney doesn’t have to forgive him, but a little compassion is always a good thing.

Don’t point fingers.

It’s almost never one person’s fault when a relationship fails, even if that person cheated. “Infidelity is usually a symptom of a breakdown in communication,” says Wagner. “In families with young children, it’s common for parents to communicate only about kids and exchange to-do-lists, to stop going on date nights and stop saying ‘I love you.’ And pretty soon you have a sexless relationship. When people aren’t being validated romantically, it can be easy to stray.” Of course Scott’s behavior was reprehensible. But if Kourtney can understand the role she played in the breakup, however small, that will make it easier to move on.

Find common ground for the kids’ sake.

Kourtney and Scott had very different lifestyles even when things were OK in their relationship.  Kourtney loves tea and green juice, Scott loves his vodka lemonades. Same can be said about their parenting styles — she’s a hands-on mom, while Scott’s been portrayed as being pretty much AWOL. But now they’ve got to focus on co-parenting successfully. “It’s okay if their parenting styles are different as long as they share the same values,” says Wagner. “It’s also important that they respect and trust one another as parents. And the structure and expectations of the kids have to  be consistent whether they’re with mom or dad. There can’t be a good cop/bad cop situation.”

Embrace single parenthood.

A cool, devoted mom from day one, Kourtney has a head start here. After Scott gets treatment for his emotional and addiction problems, he can start building his own strong relationship with Mason, Penelope and Reign. “It’s time for him to decide what is important based on his own experiences,” says Wagner. “Being a parent is a unique opportunity to share yourself.”


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WHY WE LOVE HIM: He’s taken his abusive father as inspiration to be a fantastic dad himself, and he uses both his day job and his Youtube stardom to lead other dads to awesomeness.

It’s not easy being a Youtube celebrity – while raising two girls as a single dad and holding down a day job. “I feel like I am going a hundred miles an hour,” says Jorge Narvaez, whose December 2010 video has surpassed 28.5 million views on Youtube.

Jorge, 28, and his older daughter Alexa, now 10, became celebrities after he posted their cover of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros’ single, “Home.” Since then they’ve eclipsed themselves with a 2011 cover of Adele’s “Rolling In the Deep,” which garnered more than 35 million views. And their cover of the original song from Disney’s Cinderella, just posted last week, has already racked up more than 344.5k views on Youtube. (Our favorite Narvaez video just might be “Sh*t Single Fathers Say,” though.)

When Singlewith spoke to the San Diego native a few weeks ago, he was on his lunch break, back at work after a hectic weekend. “I had a film crew of about 20 people at my house. The ‘Got Milk?’ people are doing a documentary,” Jorge explained. “They’re going to connect my story to the power of milk.” It’s not entirely far-fetched: Turns out that the secret ingredient in his mom’s rice and beans is none other than: milk. “It makes them softer,” Jorge explains.

On being a celebrity: “I still have to get home and tell my kids to clean their room!”

Mom, aka Esther Alvarez, has been living with Jorge and his girls (and cooking for them!) since their joyful reunion last May. With the help of his 550,000-plus fans, Jorge and his brother successfully fought to bring Esther back home to San Diego after her 7 years of being denied re-entry from Mexico due to her immigration status. In doing so, Jorge has also helped others in the same situation by putting a personal face on the need for immigration reform.

Eliana, Jorge and Alexa hit the beach.

After catching up at work, Jorge was off to Miami on February 25 to meet President Obama, as an invited participant in a Town Hall meeting on immigration. Pretty heady stuff for a kid who came over the border from Mexico illegally at age 1. Then to Los Angeles March 1 for the red-carpet premiere of Cinderella, complete with Disney-sponsored makeovers for Alexa and younger sister Eliana, 6. (The movie hits theaters this Friday, March 13.) And next week, Jorge is off to Miami again for the Hispanicize conference, which he describes as “South by Southwest for Hispanics.” He’ll be a judge for the Tecla digital media excellence awards.

“I don’t drink coffee,” he says, when asked the inevitable “where do you get the energy?” question. “I try to exercise when I can. I have a really good girlfriend who pushes me.” (Sorry, ladies.) And, naturally, “My kids are a big inspiration.” He takes the celebrity one day at a time, he says. “I still have to get home and tell my kids to clean their room!”

Jorge and his ex, Nancy, were teen parents – Alexa arrived between high school and college – but that’s where their connection to any depressing statistics ends. Jorge went to college, the first in his family to do so, graduating from University of California, San Diego with a degree in Ethnic Studies. Their young romance didn’t make it, especially with the pressure of his mom being barred from returning home, but Jorge and Nancy transitioned to 50/50 coparents. Jorge, who has the girls 3-1/2 days a week, was thinking about law school when Youtube fame hit, and he decided to use the platform while he had it.

On parenting: “Our nation is not focused on fatherhood. But if you strengthen the father, you strengthen the family.”

Jorge’s passion is fatherhood. Both personally and professionally, he wants to be part of a national movement to support and encourage men to be better parents. When he’s not jetting off to glamorous events, Jorge works full-time as an intake specialist at San Diego Dads Corps, which offers classes and support groups for fathers. His motivation for the work runs deep. Jorge’s dad was a hardworking guy who “loved us and everything,” he says. But Dad was also a drug addict, an alcoholic and had trouble communicating his emotions – which translated into serious abuse of his mother. “My dad’s father was worse,” Jorge says. “I was expected to do the same.”

Instead, Jorge managed to break the chain of abuse – and he makes it his mission to help other dads succeed, as well. “Some of the dads we work with, they want to do the right thing but they just don’t have the tools,” he says. San Diego Dads Corps coaches fathers on how to be better partners, dads and providers. Jorge says he wishes his father had had these sorts of resources. “I guarantee you my mom and dad would still be together.”

While Jorge can’t turn back the clock for his family, helping other men break the cycle of abuse or poverty or plain bad parenting is immensely gratifying. “You’re making the next generation stronger,” he says. “That father’s going to teach his kid what he learned, and that little kid’s going to be a better father.” Jorge says he goes home every night knowing he’s made a difference in a guy’s life. He wishes that there were more programs like San Diego Dads Corps around the country. “Our nation is not focused on fatherhood,” he says. “But if you strengthen the father, you strengthen the family.”

That belief is a big part of why, when he goes home after a full day of work, and after he puts the kids to bed, he starts his second shift, a 30-hour-a-week job on Youtube. “It’s exhausting, putting videos up all the time,” he admits. But worth it. “I get a lot of messages like, ‘You made my day today; you made me want to be a better father.’” By singing with his daughters and making little videos about their daily lives, Jorge aims to show what fatherhood can look like.

On what kids really need: “You don’t have to take ’em to Disneyland. Take ’em to the park.”

His message: “It’s OK to be a dad. It’s OK to sit down and fold a piece of paper and make a paper airplane for your daughter. You don’t have to take ’em to Disneyland. Take ’em to the park.” In fact, he says, when he did take Alexa and Eliana to Disneyland, their favorite part wasn’t any of the special attractions. It was playing with their dad in the pool at the hotel.

Sharing custody isn’t easy, Jorge concedes. Half a week is barely enough time with the girls, and there was a reason he and their mom broke up. “We clash at moments,” he says, “but when it comes to the kids, we set aside all our differences.”

Eliana, left, and Alexa, right, playing Minecraft with Dad.

As for Alexa, Eliana and their dad, they’re on to a new chapter, these days (though they’re unlikely to give up singing): “The three of us are literally obsessed with Minecraft.” They’re playing it together, though Jorge laughs at himself, noting that he’s even compelled to be Dad in the game, calling the shots: “Alexa, you cut the wood, I’ll make the swords, and Eliana, you go and build a fort.”

Next up on Reality Changers, Jorge’s Youtube channel, will be videos of the family playing Minecraft, he promises. Last year, they all met Joseph Garrett, aka Stampy Longnose – Youtube’s Minecraft king, who has more than 5 million subscribers – and Stampy inspired them to do it. Jorge bought his daughters a computer so they could play the game together. “You should have seen my daughter’s face,” Jorge says. “She’s more excited about me playing Minecraft with her than about the computer.”

While some parents moan about their kids’ Minecraft addictions, Jorge is glad for the chance to play with them in their world. “I want to be that father that’s able to evolve with them,” he says.

It was Howard Stern, of all people, who perhaps most perfectly summed up the secret to Jorge’s tremendous popularity, in our culture of too-often distant or absent fathers. After Jorge and Alexa first performed on American Idol, Stern said:

“Wow, Jorge, I wish you were my dad.”

UPDATE: On March 12, Jorge posted an announcement that he is leaving his full-time job to focus on his Youtube work – and on being an even better, more well-rested father.

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 All photos courtesy Jorge Narvaez.

WHY WE LOVE HIM: Perez’s children’s book, Celebrity Big Brother, but at Singlewith, he’s a dad we love. That’s because, regardless of what he does in his public persona, he’s clearly a loving, hands-on father and family man. Check out the video he make exclusively for Singlewith, posted below, in which he absolutely gushes about how much he adores being a dad. The celebrity gossip king also exposes himself as a big teddy bear in an Instagram feed full of Daddy-son photos so relentlessly sweet they could induce a sugar coma.

Boy with Pink Hair
Dressing up as the Boy with Pink Hair for the literary Halloween celebration at school.

Perhaps even more important, we love Perez because his charming children’s book, “>Hair,” has been out in the world since 2011, helping kids feel good about being different – and doubtless swaying a bully or two over to more positive behavior, as happens with the bully in the book. (The Boy with Pink Hair saves the day and the Boy with the Bad Attitude becomes the Boy with the Slightly Better Attitude. Yay!)

Shortly after my son dressed up as Perez’s “Boy With Pink Hair” character for his school’s “dress as your favorite book character” Halloween event, we got an invitation to have a “play date” with Perez and his son Mario (who recently turned 2) in their Manhattan apartment. At home, Perez was low-key and friendly, and clearly enamored and hands-on with his little boy. His mom popped in from her apartment in the same building – Perez may have made enemies along the way but he sure keeps his family close.

Here’s the celeb single dad himself, talking about why he loves fatherhood and family:


DID YOU LIKE THIS POST? Please go to the Singlewith Home Page for much more, and sign up for our weekly newsletter in the box (above, right)! You’ll get great new essays, advice and ideas by and for single parents, coming to your email inbox. Also, register for our Singlewith Forums, to become part of our community and start connecting and getting support from fellow single moms and dads. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter (@singlewith) and Instagram (singlewithphotos). In short, JOIN US!