“I’m not an absentee father,” Usher insisted today, fighting back against his ex-wife Tameka Foster‘s claims that he puts his career ahead of his kids.
After a lengthy and heated custody battle, the ‘Scream’ singer was awarded primary custody of the couple’s sons Usher V, 4, and Naviyd Ely, 3, last month. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey that aired this evening, Usher spoke for the first time about these past difficult months.
“This will be the only time that I’ve ever chosen to speak about it,” he said. “I’ve been a man of integrity throughout the entire process, which I hope my boys will understand. That’s the way to go. That’s the way to be.”
Their relationship was surrounded by controversy almost from the start. Their 2007 wedding was called off at the last minute when Usher’s own mom refused to attend, though they went on to tie the knot in a private ceremony just a couple of weeks later. A few months after that they welcomed their first child.
“When we had Usher V, it was by far the most incredible moment of my life. I couldn’t have been more happy,” Usher, 33, revealed. “After that, I did get a great sense of the insecurities that were there and the fact that she wasn’t coping well with being in this position, being married to Usher, and all that came with that.”
Though he says that they did see a marriage counselor, Usher eventually filed for divorce in 2009, less than two years after their second son Nayvid was born.
“Let’s put aside all of the issues that come with being a celebrity and having married someone that people don’t approve of. You have at-home problems with communication, with understanding of how things go. It is hard being married.”
“I didn’t know how to balance it. It was obviously too much for me,” he explained. “I didn’t want to get to the point where I would cause myself harm or do anything that I felt like would be harmful to me, so I couldn’t stay in it.”
The divorce kicked off a custody battle that saw Tameka allege that her ex is in fact an absentee father. It’s a charge that the singer strongly denies.
“Absentee from the aspect of having to go and work, that probably would be her version or idea what absentee would be. But no, I’m not an absentee father at all,” he says, adding, “I was born to do what I’m doing as a dad.”
Having been raised without a father figure around, Usher explains that he is intent on being present for his own children: “Having not had a father wasn’t a reason not to be a good father. That was all of the reason to be a good father because I didn’t have one. Every bit of who I have become and the way I think I have handled these things represents the example for how I would like for my boys to be able to do things.”