Move over, Katie Holmes. When it comes to handling your divorce, there's a new celebrity divorce role model in Tinseltown. His name is Nick Cannon. For those of you who aren't familiar with the term, a celebrity divorce role model is a famous person who conducts him or herself well during the process. (For those of you who aren't familiar with the name Nick Cannon, we'll get to that.) A celebrity divorce role model avoids public meltdowns, does their best to shield her kids from the toxic fallout from her divorce and refrains from airing her dirty laundry in public. (In other words, not Britney Spears.) For years, Katie Holmes has been my divorce celebrity role model. But Katie now has a little competition -- at least when it comes to handling the inevitable publicity that surrounds a celebrity divorce.
If you're like me, you haven't really been following the Mariah Carey-Nick Cannon split. And who can blame us? In the category of celebrity splits, "Nickiah" (or is it "Marick?") hardly registers on the give-a-care-o-meter. It's not nearly as compelling as TomKat's split -- or even Demi and Ashton's. Somehow, even Tori and Dean's breakup was more interesting -- and I'm not sure if that reflects more poorly on us or on them.
That's why I was surprised when a story about Marick's divorce caught my eye last weekend. And it was so intriguing that it motivated me to do a deeper dive. The result of all of this exhaustive research is a newfound respect for these two -- but most especially Nick.
Before you bury me in hate email, let me say this: I realize the leading theory on the cause of their split is that Nick cheated, but what I'm talking about here is how Nick is handling his divorce in the press, not how he conducted himself during their marriage.
"If someone asks me a question, I know how to answer it. If I have to say, 'At this time I'd rather not say that,' or misdirect, 'it is what it is.'"
I'm pretty sure Nick meant redirect, not misdirect. But let's not let the one thing he got wrong distract us from all the stuff he's getting right, because the latter is way more important than the former. (And remember, he's an entertainer not an English teacher.)
Nick's quote reveals that he has actually thought through how to handle questions about his divorce. That means he's way ahead of most people going through a divorce, and lightyears ahead of the average celebrity. He has his "go-to" response all worked out. He politely refuses to dish, then he redirects the conversation to another topic. If I didn't know better, I'd think he'd graduated from Emotional Hardbody Divorce Boot Camp, because that's exactly what I instruct my clients to do.
I call it the two-sentence rule, and under this rule, you have a short answer rehearsed and ready to go. Your answer should go something like this: "It's been hard, but I'm getting through it. Thanks for asking." Then, when someone who has no business asking and zero need to know asks you about your divorce, you rattle of those two sentences and promptly change the subject. The two-sentence rule prevents details about your divorce from serving as chum in the water for crisis junkies and gossipmongers who love to feed off other people's divorce drama. Nick apparently figured all of this out without even going to a single divorce boot camp session. Impressive.
And you know what else is impressive? Nick's unwavering public support of Mariah. Through tweets and statements to the press, he consistently has her back. Here are just two examples out of dozens of choices: "I will forever be indebted to her for blessing me with our children," and "@MariahCarey is an amazing mother and I trust her wholeheartedly."
And earlier this month when asked about reports of Mariah's less than stellar performances in Japan, Nick said, "[Y]ou know, you might have an off-night here and there, but she's one of the greatest performers and entertainers of all time, she's not worried, we're not worried..." He didn't just decline to join in the chorus of criticism; he actually came to her defense. That kind of support from an ex during a divorce is as rare as it is refreshing.
Even Nick's answer about how his kids are handling the split put Mariah in a good light. "They're great. They're doing amazing," he said of his three-year old twins. "They're on the road right now with Mommy, on tour, so they're having a good time."
I know from experience that it's really hard for divorced parents to admit that their kids enjoy spending time with the other parent, and it's equally difficult for divorced parents to characterize the time the kids spend with the other parent as being good for the kids. Nick does both of these things without even hesitating. And note that he didn't say the kids were "with their mother," or "with mom" or even just plain "with Mariah." He said his kids were "with Mommy," which is the warmest possible way he could put it. Treating his kids' mom with warmth and kindness and valuing the time his kids spend with her are the best presents he can give to them. And lest you think that Nick is just one of those old souls who has always been wise and mature, let me remind you that his hit song in 2004 was Gigolo. He's come a long way in ten years.
Some people have criticized Nick for the shirtless photos of him that have surfaced revealing his new oversized crucifix back tattoo. The reason the tattoo is raising eyebrows is that it covers up the huge tattoo of Mariah's name that he had emblazoned on his back six years ago. You won't find me judging Nick for his new tattoo -- mainly because I already judged him for the first one. The way I see it, if you're boneheaded enough to get your love interest's name tattooed on your body, later having to get that tattoo modified or removed just goes with the territory. The new humongous crucifix tattoo on his back is literally now his cross to bear. But given how Nick is handling the rest of his divorce, I predict he'll bear it with grace and dignity.