Jessica Seinfeld Talks Giving Back and Parenting With Jerry: 'Where I'm Weaker, He's Stronger'
Jessica Seinfeld recognizes how critical fathers are to the family equation, including her own famous husband Jerry Seinfeld. Learn how she’s supporting parents across the country through the Good+Foundation.
Shortly after the birth of her first child, New York Times best-selling author Jessica Seinfeld founded the Good+Foundation, a national nonprofit aimed to provide support for low-income fathers, mothers, and caregivers. Nineteen years later, they've donated close to $50 million in children's items to anti-poverty programs around the country. In her own words, she explains how Good+ has grown to serve so many over the years, the inspiration behind her foundation, and how her kids also get involved in giving back.
How Good+ Helps All Parents Succeed
I started the Good+Foundation to assist mothers and children. Then we noticed the relief that mothers feel when their child’s father steps in. Even if parents are living separately and coparenting, having the father involved helps everyone. But there isn’t the level of government and social support for fathers that there is for mothers. So we’re working with social-service providers to make sure that men can receive parenting and healthy-relationships classes, job training, and GED attainment. We want to be sure that decision makers such as social workers and the police are not inherently distrustful of dads. Many fathers want to be hands-on.
Our partner organizations provide both moms and dads with skills and training, and Good+ helps them offer incentives. It’s hard to get some guys excited about a parenting class, but if afterward they can take diapers or a stroller to their child’s mother, it’s a game changer. We’ve seen family relationships mended this way. Good+ gets financial donations from people, foundations, and companies, as well as millions of dollars of donated goods. Nordstrom has been exceptionally involved financially, and by donating product we can give to partner organizations. Plus, their employees volunteer with us.
Inspiration from Her Own Father
I am blessed to have a wonderful father. But my grandparents got divorced when my mother was very young, and my grandmother raised my mom alone in New York City. I’ve always been extremely close to my grandmother and my mother, so from the very beginning, I had perspective on the role a dad can play in both a mother’s life and a child’s life.
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Jerry Seinfeld as a Dad
He’s an incredible father. But the nicest way to say this is that he wasn’t a natural when our kids were born. He wasn’t immediately pushing strollers and carrying babies. He jokes that it took him a good ten years to warm up. He travels often and usually over weekends, so a lot of the early caretaking, sports, and activities were left to me. But Jerry’s strength is now, with our three teenagers. He’s patient with them. Where I am weaker, he is stronger, and we complement each other. I wouldn’t change anything.
Her Family Ties to Charity
My own mother was a social worker. And all their lives our kids have heard about my work with those who are underserved. Our children have volunteered alongside me, but the other ways they choose to work in the community is more of an expression of them. Our daughter just took a college class on education and incarceration, and it opened her eyes to the work Good+ is doing with fathers coming out of prison. So she’s my big hope right now.
This article originally appeared in Parents magazine's June 2020 issue as “Sending Love to Dads Everywhere.” Want more from the magazine? Sign up for a monthly print subscription here