Parenthood Is a Roller Coaster, and This Single Dad Is in the Front Seat With His Son
“It’s the roller coaster capital of the world,” Scott says. He has owned a season pass for most of the last 27 years, and he wants to “pass that legacy on to Bryce.” Their shared adventure should get even livelier when Bryce grows.
“So far, he can only ride on the smaller roller coasters,” Scott, 40, says. “But he’s two inches away from when things get interesting.”
Scott, divorced since March 2012, shares a rich legacy of fun, love and parental commitment with his son. He calls Bryce “a very caring, loving kid” who’s also “energetic and somewhat goofy.”
The goofiness, he says, is a third-generation trait: “My dad has a sense of humor heavily influenced by the Marx Brothers and that rubbed off on me. Now Bryce has a great sense of humor!”
Bryce loves rhymes, puns and wordplay, Scott says. “One of our latest rhyming discoveries is acting like an important commentator on television, announcing, ‘This is a sherbet alert!’ ”
Time togetherScott’s parents divorced when he was young, and their experience influenced him. “I learned from them how to raise a son in a single-parent home,” he says. He now has a strong relationship with both of his parents. He wants the same for Bryce.
Scott has joint custody of Bryce with his ex-wife, Maria Manzari, sharing visitation, responsibilities and finances evenly. Bryce spends Monday and Tuesday with Maria and Wednesday and Thursday with Scott. They alternate three-day weekends and holidays. To remain close, Scott bought a house within 10 minutes of Maria’s condo and near Bryce’s school.
Together, the couple enrolled Bryce in swimming lessons, karate, soccer, basketball and T-ball. “Anything to help him develop as a person,” Scott says. When possible, mom and dad attend Bryce’s practices, games, school conferences and doctor visits together. When Bryce ended up in the ER because of asthma-related breathing problems, Maria and Scott met at the hospital.
“You’ve just got to be there for your kid,” Scott says. “No matter what happened in your relationship, you have this child depending on you.”
It helps that Bryce hasn’t needed much discipline. “I’ve had to use timeouts only five times,” Scott says. “He just does the right thing. Even his teachers say he’s the sweetest kid.
“I worry if I am doing enough to discipline him, but I haven’t seen the need. My mom says I was not a normal child, in that she didn’t have to discipline me much, so maybe that’s where he gets it.”
Scott, a marketing specialist, spent his early career as a middle school and high school teacher. “I like kids,” he says. He also likes learning and loves watching his son discover. Bryce is now working on reading and writing, and, like any self-respecting 5-year-old, loves to educate his dad about dinosaurs.
Scott and his son are friends. In good weather, they have swordfights with branches, or just play catch. Indoors, there’s air hockey, iPad games and Legos. “He keeps me youthful,” Scott says.
Bryce is an only child. “He wants a sibling,” Scott says. “And I want that to happen.”
Either way, Bryce will always play a starring role in Scott’s life. “You hear stories of dads who just up and leave,” Scott says. “I don’t know how you do that. This thing that has happened to you is a miracle.”
When You Don't Live Nearby
Job opportunities or other life changes often mean that one divorced parent must move to another city or state. The tips below can help minimize disruption of your children’s lives, says the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts. A mediator can help. Ask your lawyer, judge or Friend of the Court advocate for help.
- Focus on the kids. Don't let adult issues interfere with your relationships with your children. Spend your energy connecting with them.
Communicate. Tell your ex-spouse early about your plans and ask for help deciding what’s best for the children.
- Develop a written parenting plan. Determine who does what when, including how often and when each parent sees the children, how children travel between homes, and who pays transportation costs.
- Share medical, school, and legal records, and all other pertinent information, as circumstances change. If a child develops asthma, for example, both parents need to understand the diagnosis and treatment.