Marriage with kids is co-parenting and ironically, divorce with kids is co-parenting: same decisions, same values, same uneven emotional investment. Going through a divorce just to co-parent from different homes wastes so much time and energy that some people argue courts should not intervene in post-divorce parenting decisions, which would legally call a spade a spade and make parenting while divorced the same as parenting while married.

In a divorce with kids, timing is everything
When asked why the Gates chose now to divorce, an unidentified friend of the family said, “They limped through until their kids were out of school like a lot of people.”

Most people realize that the kid’s needs must come before the parent’s needs. This is why celebrities put out press releases that say something like, “We are doing what’s best for the kids.” Jeff Bezos also made sure to mention he’s concerned about the children’s best interests. But obviously, divorce is not an expression of the kids’ best interests. Unless one parent is so terrible that they will be losing custody, staying together until the kids are grown is what’s best for the kids.

Selfish parenting is the saddest part of divorce
Then one must ask, what could possibly make Jeff Bezos decide he needs to have a new wife before his kids are grown up? He can do whatever he wants for work to keep himself interested. Money can’t buy a good marriage, but it can buy space for co-parenting, and Jeff could buy more of that than anyone.

Developmentally, this is the time for Jeff to allow the kids to self-actualize, but if he breaks up the family, then the kids have to focus on dealing with their pain and disappointment. So (giving the benefit of the doubt) Jeff asked himself: Can I wait to fully explore my own possibilities until I am finished raising my kids? And he decided, no he cannot wait. The better question would have been who is better equipped to deal with disappointment, parents or kids?

The kids are the litmus test for who’s right
Melinda, on the other hand, has wanted to leave for a while, but she stayed in the marriage for the kids. This is what it looks like to put the kids first. It’s easier with a lot of money: she can live in one-half of their 66,000 square foot house.

For Bill’s part, even in 2020 he seemed to adore Melinda – he can quantify it. But during the last decade, he has publicly humiliated Melinda with tone-deaf behavior like refusing to let her write part of the annual letter for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which they both run. He brought her to dinner at Jeffrey Epstein’s house which made her furious at the time, and still haunted years later. Then Bill doubled down and he misled the press — and possibly Melinda — about the extent of his relationship with Epstein.

Whatever Bill has done, it is so offensive everyone in the family is upset with him. The family knew the divorce was coming and while the lawyers hammered out an agreement the three Gates kids and their significant others went on a vacation with Melinda. Bill was not invited.

What problem does divorce solve? 
The problems divorce solves for Jeff Bezos are clear: He needed more attention than he was getting in his family of four children. He needed more fun than he was having with his wife who was raising his four children. When divorce is very sad, because the kids are so young, and a parent is so reckless, there is nothing to be learned about personal development except: fucking do it.

When divorce is a long time coming because a person has the maturity to put the kids’ needs first, and the grace to keep the family steady til the kids move out, it’s interesting to ask what does someone with such deep self-knowledge gain from divorce? With Melinda the question is even more intersting because she has all the freedom she needs.

She said she’s not distancing herself from the Gates Foundation, and its structure will not change. Perhaps this is because the foundation is practically the largest donor to the World Health Organization and for better or worse now is not the time for a world health funding bloodbath. Also, Melinda and Bill will continue working together because they have their collective eye on a Nobel Prize for their Foundation work.

There’s probably not a third person involved. I mean, there is, but Bill’s ex-girlfriend Ann Winblad has been involved from the start. Bill has been meeting her at her beach house for decades, with Melinda’s blessing. So if their marriage can have space for that, it’s unlikely they’d need to get divorced for a third party.

It’s hard to imagine Melinda cannot express herself fully in the marriage — she has unfettered access to billions of dollars and international credentials to make her mark without a divorce; she didn’t even drop the name Gates after her divorce.

So the divorce must be very personal. My guess is that Bill has lost his sense of what’s right. Vox has a great series where they ask what do we do now that would be unthinkable in 50 years. One of the answers is that being obsessed with rational thinking will be unthinkable in 50 years. In 50 years we will require people to balance rational thinking with emotional thinking. We will eventually be finished exalting the person who is all science and no heart.

I guess that makes Melinda a futurist. Because she’s finished right now.

Our dog died. Well, we put him down. Put him to sleep is what the vet in Boston said. Maybe “to put down” is only for a goat or a pig. I’m not sure.

We knew Sparky would die soon because the vet wouldn’t operate on his cancer. His heart wasn’t good enough. He seemed so healthy so I told myself I’d get a second opinion. But he got unhealthy so fast. So I just thought I’d go back to the vet to see if he’s in pain. Then he bit the cancer spot and there was blood everywhere. Then I stayed up with him for two days. Holding him so he wouldn’t bite the spot more. I took him outside. I gave him water. Sometimes the boys pet him, when they weren’t grossed out. Then Sparky started snapping at us. Growling. It was clear he was in a lot of pain. Read more

The US is one of the only countries in which working extremely long hours is extremely rewarding. Other countries tax very high income to the point that it’s not worth earning. In those countries, it’s possible to take care of children and have an interesting job. Because even if a job is really interesting, people don’t work very long hours. Read more

Hong Kong protests

You know how Marie Kondo tells you to go through your closet and throw out all your clothes because you want to start a new part of life? I did that with my website. If you’re the impetuous type, you throw out your clothes and buy new ones later. I did that, too.

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The reason there's no #MeToo for domestic violence

The #MeToo movement has focused on workplace harassment, and I keep thinking: when will #MeToo include domestic violence? I try to imagine what it will look like so I can help make it come faster. Read more

To do something big, aim to be irrelevant.

Urban Meyer, coach of Ohio State football, likes three-sport athletes more than singularly focused athletes. Yet sites like Active for Life jump on the three-sport thing to tell parents that early specialization is bad for kids. Read more

The New York Times has an 11-point list of questions to ask yourself to see if you’ve done everything you can to save your marriage. I coach a lot of people who are thinking about getting a divorce. Almost everyone feels that their spouse is impossible, unresponsive, and/or doesn’t care about the issues at hand. Read more


About once a week I take my kids to eat at the Swarthmore College cafeteria. I’d say that after playing video games, this is their favorite thing to do. The boys marvel at the range of kid-friendly food choices. I marvel at the panoply of dietary trends the school caters to. Read more

If you are a person who loves your garden, people send you pictures of your garden. It’s a way of saying thank you for making a nice place to enjoy. But since I am dense when it comes to social skills, I used to think people were stupid for sending me pictures of my own garden. I saw my garden every day. Read more

I am cooking but it’s in a slow cooker. I’m resisting my rental apartment oven because I have a $12,000 oven at the farm that no one is using, and maybe that wouldn’t be so frustrating to me if I didn’t also have  $35,000 piano at the farm that no one is using. Read more