Michael Phelps celebrates gold without dad

Filed under: Just For Moms, Just For Dads, Divorce & Custody, Relatives, Single Parenting

Michael PhelpsWe've all seen swimmer Micheal Phelps' mother and sisters cheering him on from the stands as he makes history at the Beijing Olympics. Conspicuously missing from this family picture is his father, Fred. Not only is Fred absent in China, he hasn't even spoken to his son since the games began.

"He's so busy, I'm sure not even his agent can get a hold of him," Fred said. "I'm very proud of him and all he's done. This is not about me, it's about him."
Michael's parents were high school sweethearts who divorced when he was just nine years old. "It was like a storybook [marriage], but sometimes chapters go in different directions," says his mother Debbie. "We were close, but we grew apart."

Clearly Fred Phelps grew apart not just from his wife, but from his son as well. When Fred showed up at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Michael admitted that up until that point, he hadn't been in contact with his father since he graduated high school. He also revealed that his father hadn't even reached out to him after he set his first world record in 2001. "There are reasons and I really don't want to get into that," Michael said.

Whatever those reasons were, they clearly were not resolved. After the 2004 Games, father and son became estranged once more. And while Fred Phelps watches from afar, Michael Phelps gives credit for his success where credit is due. "The person I love the most is sitting in the front row - my mom - for everything she's done," Michael told reporters in Beijing.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.