Heidi Klum and Seal’s marriage may be long over, but the former couple is committed to co-parenting their four children together in an arrangement that Klum says has her juggling both gender roles.
In the new issue of Redbook, Klum, 42, sheds light on life with her children after divorcing Seal, her husband of seven years, in Jan. 2012. “Obviously things have changed, but they haven’t changed drastically. [Seal] was never your typical dad who left for work in the morning with his briefcase and would be home by dinnertime every night. He traveled a lot,” she says in the interview. “The kids knew it was part of his job. I’m a mom and a dad at the same time.”
Klum further explains her balancing act by saying, “Women are capable of juggling a lot of balls — we do things that guys just cannot do. Men typically can juggle only one ball, and even then they’re like, ‘I’m confused. Should I put it in my right or left hand?’ A lot of them have a very hard time just trying to figure out what to do with that one ball. And often they want us to hold that one too!“
When finalizing their divorce in Oct. 2014, Klum and Seal worked out a confidential custody agreement for their children —sons Henry, 10, and Johan, 8; daughter Lou, 6; and Heidi’s daughter from a previous relationship, Leni, 11. And while the couple seemed to have an idyllic marriage — Seal proposed to the German supermodel in a custom-built igloo, they renewed their marriage vows each year, and they were known for their wild Halloween parties and matching costumes — their divorce was tumultuous.
According to a report published by TMZ, Klum filed for divorce due to Seal’s “out of control temper” that frightened her and their children, and then jumped into a relationship with the family bodyguard, prompting Seal to tell reporters, “I would have thought Heidi would have shown a little more class and at least waiting until we separated before deciding to fornicate with the help.”
These days, the singer and supermodel seem to have a sound co-parenting strategy, attending their kids’s soccer games together and publicly expressing affection. Still, Klum’s dual identity isn’t uncommon, says Laurie Puhn, a couples’ mediator and bestselling author of Fight Less, Love More.
“Whenever a single parent is solely responsible for their children for any extended period of time, he or she takes on the role of both parents,” she tells Yahoo Parenting. “However, what that means is different for each person.” Those roles aren’t always gender-specific — for example, there are plenty of moms who attend their children’s sports games, and dads who cook dinner each night. Since it’s common for married couples to split responsibilities in ways that uniquely work for their families, it’s possible that Klum is simply assuming Seal’s former role when he’s not present. Without him there to divide and conquer, she’s doing it all, much like any other single parent would.
“It’s also common for single parents to make an effort to wear many hats to offer a sense of continuity for their children,” says Puhn.
Klum and Seal are only the latest ex-couple to make headlines for their co-parenting skills. In August, an email exchange between New England Patriot quarterback Tom Brady and ex-girlfriend Bridget Moynahan was unsealed as part of the “deflate-gate” scandal, and in it, the couple warmly praised their 7-year-old son. And Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner have approached their divorce thoughtfully for the sake of their three children, wearing their wedding rings and living on the same property. “They don’t want this to be War of the Roses,” a source told Us Weekly in June. “They want it to be simple and this takes the drama out of it. It is important for them to keep this nice and efficient for the sake of their family.”
Ultimately, that’s what most divorced parents want, says Puhn, who adds that subduing anger for each other and renegotiating parental roles is key to providing a seamless transition for children. Hollywood couples: Take note.
(Photo: Getty Images)