Hands-On Dad: The Serious Side of Tom Arnold
Comedian and actor Tom Arnold got real with Giddy's Marisa Sullivan in a heartfelt interview about his kids and how he has navigated conversations with them about love…and the birds and the bees.
Arnold is a single dad to son Jax, 8, and daughter Quinn, 5, his children with ex-wife Ashley Groussman, to whom he was married for more than a decade until their divorce was finalized in 2020.
"My son was born when I was 54," Arnold said. "My friends would say to me, 'Well, let your wife—at the time—do everything, and then when he's 7, he'll be fun for you.'"
Arnold's reply? "Well, I'm 54. I don't know where I'm going to be when he's 7. I'm going to change every diaper."
Actor, comedian and father Tom Arnold sat down with Giddy’s Marisa Sullivan to discuss raising children as an older single father, how he healed from childhood sexual abuse, and his recovery from a battle with addiction.
The actor, who just wrapped the Machine Gun Kelly-directed film "Good Mourning With a U," pointed out that he made it a top priority to give his girl as much love as his firstborn.
"When my daughter was born, I really focused on the—not just the diapers, the feedings, the nights and whatever—but making sure that she got as much attention as my son had gotten," Arnold said.
Given that his children are still at an age when they require near-constant attention, how does Arnold keep his needs at bay and put his kids first? He explained that being a 62-year-old dad to two young kids "takes you out of a lot of dating scenarios." He said this with a little chuckle but admitted that he thinks he will soon be ready to date, and he has been prepping the kids here and there just in case (but they don't seem to be having it).
Realistically, the Iowa Hawkeye—Arnold grew up in rural Iowa—would like to meet a woman with kids, and acknowledged that he does need to lose a few COVID-19 pounds. Arnold had dropped nearly 90 pounds before the pandemic, and although he has been working out recently, he shared that it has been harder to lose weight.
In regard to talking sex and love with his kids and how they came to be born, the doting dad said he tries to be as honest as possible about how life and relationships work. He even discusses in vitro fertilization (IVF), which is how they were conceived.
Arnold said his daughter Quinn recently asked him, "How did I get here?" He noted that in Disney stories, there is always a prince and a princess, which is unrealistic in most societies. But as a girl-dad, Arnold felt it was important for Quinn to know that her parents had also shared this type of love at one point, even if they weren't still together.
"I spent a weekend after her mom moved out. I showed her her birth…I've got so much material, the pictures, the videos. ...I said, 'This is where you came from, in your mom's belly, but you started off with me.' I make that very clear," he recalled with a little smirk.
"It was important to me, and it's still important to me, to let her know: 'You came here because of love…and we always dreamed about you and your brother,'" Arnold added.
By the time Arnold's ex-wife moved out in 2018, the atmosphere around the house wasn't great, he said. There was a lot of animosity, which he knew the kids were picking up on, and that's relatable for so many parents.
Despite the animosity, Arnold insists you can't hate someone with whom you have kids; at least he can't.
"You look at your kids, and they are part of that person," he said.