Being a parent is one of the most rewarding jobs in the world, but it's also one of the hardest. And when you're doing it on your own, there's a whole new set of challenges. While it's often assumed that moms take on this task, there are many fathers out there doing the single parent grind and doing it well.
This applies to celebrity dads too, who not only face the task of balancing family life and work but also having their kids growing up under the scrutiny of the public eye. Some of these celeb dads became single fathers after tragic circumstances while some by choice. But whatever the case may be, these famous fathers have stepped up to the plate.
When Tragedy Strikes
When actor Liam Neeson's wife of 15 years, Natasha, died in a tragic skiing accident, Neeson was left to raise their two sons, Daniel and Michael who were just 12 and 13 at the time. They all went through a very difficult time following her death, and Neeson has admitted to "this profound feeling of instability" at times.
Despite this, Neeson has been doing his best to steer his boys, now both young adults, through the impact of such a tragedy. They went through their share of ups and downs, as expected. "If Tasha was here, someone could share this," says Neeson."But yeah, we're doing all right."
Singer Ricky Martin's twin sons, Valentino and Matteo, were born via surrogate in 2008. He adopted them and has been raising them as a single parent ever since. He hasn't let the crazy life of a touring musician get in the way of him spending time with his boys either—he just takes them on the road with him.
"I don't work well without them. They're stuck to me constantly... But fortunately, I have sons who are warriors and who were born on tour and don't know anything else...I'm their stability. They feel unstable if I'm not there," Martin said.
Usher Isn't An Absentee Dad
In 2012 singer Usher was in the midst of a court battle with his ex-wife over custody of their two children, Usher V and Naviyd. Divorced in 2008, the two had been co-parenting, but when their son had nearly drowned in his father's care, Usher's ex brought him to court. During the case, she claimed Usher was an absentee father, while Usher argued she was unable to bond with their kids. The judge ruled in Usher's favor, granting him full custody. He made the statement, "I'm not an absentee father at all. I was born to do what I'm doing as a dad... When I had them, that was when they became a priority,"
After a vicious custody battle with his ex-wife, actor Dean Cain has been raising his teenage son Christopher, on his own. "I'm better at being a father than I have been at anything else in my entire life," says Cain. "He's going to have to fight to stop me from kissing him...He's my favorite person on the whole planet." After hearing this statement, his son agreed that felt the same way about his dad. Juggling life as an actor with the responsibilities of fatherhood could be quite difficult at times, but Dean states, "...I’ve learned to make the decisions that put him first."
Sex Symbol, Soccer Star, And Proud Papa
In 2010, Portuguese soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo stunned us all when he announced his baby boy, Cristiano Ronaldo Jr. who he'd be raising on his own, without any assistance from the child's mother. What made the story more shocking was that the mother was apparently an American woman who was paid to be a surrogate, and wanted her identity kept secret. Ronaldo has said, "“Being a father is a unique and personal journey, something that has changed me completely...It’s taught me things about love that I never knew existed."
Fight To The Finish
Miami Heat basketball star Dwyane Wade won full custody of his two sons, Zaire and Zion, after fighting a three-year court battle with his ex-wife. According to Wade, "You need to fight to be in your kids' lives sometimes. You fight until you can't fight anymore. That's all I was trying to be, a father in my kids' lives." For him, time spent together with his boys is worth more than anything. "It's not about the money I have or don't have. It's about the time I am willing to sit down across the table from my kids and if they don't get something right, helping them get it right." He's since remarried to actress Gabrielle Union.
When rocker Lenny Kravitz split with his wife Lisa Bonet in 2011, their daughter Zoe, who was 11 at the time, went to live with her father. Kravitz has described their relationship as "the best thing I have in this world." Despite his wild image, Kravitz is a very strict father. According to Zoe, who has attended many red carpets with her father, “My dad was brought up very old school, very strict – ‘Yes, ma’am, yes sir.’ ‘Did you do your chores today?’ Or, ‘That dress is too short!’ ‘Yes, there’s a party going on with Mick Jagger and some models, but it’s your bedtime.'”
Rapper Eminem's fans know all about his devotion to his daughter Hailie, whose he's spoken about and even featured in his songs. Hailie is now 21, but during her upbringing, Eminem and his ex-wife Kim shared joint custody. He also adopted Kim's niece, Alaina, as well as Kim's daughter Whitney, whose biological father was a man Kim cheated on him with. Despite being divorced, he considers all the girls his daughters. Eminem also received legal custody of his younger brother Nate now. Nate was abused by their mother and sent for a time to live in foster care. Rather than watch his brother suffer, he decided to raise him himself.
Al Pacino has never been married, but he has three kids; Julie Marie is from his relationship with Jan Tarran, and twins Anton James and Olivia Rose from his romance to actress Beverly D’Angelo. Julie Marie is following in her father's footsteps and is a film producer, director, and screenwriter. He shares parenting responsibilities equally with D'Angelo for their 16-year-old twins. Pacino has always made a serious effort to be heavily involved in his kids' lives, as he did not have a relationship with his own father when he was a growing up.
Preparing For A Year
Rapper Common has a very strong bond with his 19-year-old daughter Omoye Assata Lynn. Common had decided to put his album One Day It'll Make Sense on hold for a year while he prepared for Omoye's birth. Though he was never married to her mother, he's always been very active in Omoye's life and upbringing, and you'll often see Omoye accompanying her father on the red carpet. In regards to her father's music, Common laughs, "She likes some of (my) music, but she's really honest about my music. She'll say, 'Naw, that's not good or you can do better than that or you're not as good as Chance the Rapper or these guys,'"
Following the tragic death of Princess Diana, ex-husband Prince Charles was left to raise two teenage boys, William and Harry, on his own. He decided to move the boys out of Buckingham Palace in London and into Windsor Castle in Highgrove, which was very controversial at the time because members of the royal family have always lived and attended school in London. Prince Charles did this to get them out of the media's scrutiny while they grieved and enable them to have the chance to have a normal upbringing.
When Rick Moranis’ wife died of breast cancer in 1991, the actor was left raising four kids on his own. Having difficulty balancing his career and fatherhood, Moranis decided to put his movie career, which was at its peak, on hold and focus on his family. He wanted to find a way to give his kids the amazing upbringing he had. "I didn’t walk away from [creativity]. I applied all my creativity to my home life, to my kids, to my family. I was the same person. I didn’t change. I just shifted my focus.”
History Repeats Itself
In 1998, musician Bob Geldof won custody of he and his ex-wife Paula Yates's three daughters, Fifi Trixibelle, Peaches, and Pixie. Geldof went on to become a major advocate for father's rights. Then in 2000, Yates died from a heroin overdose, and Geldof then sought and won custody of Yates' daughter Tiger Lily, whose father (INXS singer Michael Hutchison) had also died previously from an overdose. In a sad and strange turn of events, Peaches died from an overdose in 2016, leaving her husband, Thomas Cohen, also a musician, a single father of their two children.
Parenting And Scientology
When actor Tom Cruise was married to actress Nicole Kidman, the couple adopted two children, Jane and Conner. After they divorced in 2001, the kids were raised by their father, in the Church of Scientology, and were homeschooled by Cruise's sisters. Kidman has admitted she doesn't have a close relationship with the kids due to their religious beliefs. Cruise has stated, that he’ll, “never forget the moment [he] became a dad,” and the “clarity” and “the level of responsibility, the desire to give such joy”. Cruise became a single father to Suri Cruise when he divorced wife Katie Holmes in 2012.
From Playboy To Papa
Irish actor Collin Ferrel is a single father to his two sons, James and Henry. After he split with their mother, Farrell did not immediately jump back into his partying and womanizing ways. In fact, he's said, "I'm no longer excited by the idea of working on films back-to-back and living the high life in the best hotels in the world." Instead, he's, "a loving father who takes his responsibility very seriously, and I am completely devoted to giving my sons the best life possible....My children have given me purpose in my life and I embrace it wholeheartedly."
Raising His Sister's Kids
According to rapper Nelly, "Kids change your life in so many ways. You learn to come off not just as a parent but as a friend, and that’s what children need.” Nelly became a single dad after his split with the mother of his two children, Chanel, 23, and Cornell, 18. Then when his sister Jacqueline passed away from leukemia in 2005, Nelly got custody of her two children, his niece Sydney, 20 and nephew Shawn, 26. He refers to all four of them as his kids. “My kids are awesome and just having them there is the blessing for me...Just being with your kids, I think that’s a great gift for fathers.”
Actors Ryan Phillippe and Reese Witherspoon have managed to successfully co-parent their two kids Deacon, 13 and Ava, 17 since their divorce in 2006. 'I'm proud of the way we've handled it and who our little people are," says Phillippe. He had another daughter, Kai, 5, with former partner Alexis Knapp. According to Phillippe,“You have to get to that point as a divorced parent, as any parent, where you’re not putting yourself first." He has always been very vocal about his belief in raising your children yourself, no matter what, rather than hiring caregivers to do the job.
Open And Honest
When actor Johnny Depp first became a father, he felt as if "the veil was lifted and things became clearer." He has two children, Jack and Lily-Rose, from his ex-partner Vanessa Paradis. While the divorce was very difficult, Depp believed strongly in being honest with the kids about what was going on. "You can't shield them, because you'd be lying." While Depp has always been very private, he's very open when it comes to showing his adoration for his children. "...They're told 75 times a day that they are loved. One thing I know for sure is they feel loved and secure and happy and needed and necessary and part of something."
Working Hard At It
According to comedian Jason Manford, "It was actually only once I became a single dad I realized just how much work went into this child-rearing business!" Luckily Jason and his ex-wife have a good relationship and successfully co-parent. "Generally I have them four days a week, which I mix up with their mum. We are good friends, we are fine,” He goes on to emphasize,"It’s been an interesting time since I was a single dad. You don’t realize how much work your missus was putting in until you do it yourself. I was like, ‘This is dead hard this’. I appreciated it."
Jamie Foxx may have never been married to either of his daughters' mothers, even keeping their identities secret per their request, but that hasn't stopped him from establishing a strong bond with his girls, Corinne, 23, and Annalise, 7. He often brings them as his dates to high-profile events, like the Grammys and the Oscars. When Corrine, who is a budding model, first walked the runway during Fashion Week, she stated that "He's [Foxx] going to be my comforting face on the runway. When I'm getting nervous, I'm just going to look at him and be like, 'OK, I'm OK, he's here.'"