iOS app Android app

Joel Schwartzberg
GET UPDATES FROM Joel Schwartzberg
Joel Schwartzberg is an award-winning author, humorist, personal essayist and screenwriter whose work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times Magazine, New Jersey Monthly, The New York Post, The New York Daily News, The Star Ledger,, and in the flimsy pages of regional parenting magazines around the country.

His books include Small Things Considered: Moments From Manliness to Manilow (2014) and The 40-Year-Old Version: Humoirs of a Divorced Dad (2009), both released by Wyatt-McKenzie Publishing.

A former Nickelodeon producer & head writer, law school dropout, doomed Wheel of Fortune contestant, and father of three, Joel maintains a personal portfolio at

Entries by Joel Schwartzberg

An Open Letter To Divorced Celebrity Fathers

(2) Comments | Posted March 15, 2016 | 12:18 PM

Dear Ben Affleck, Gavin Rossdale, Brian Austin-Green, and -- oh, what the heck -- Scott Disick,

The tabloids are giving many of you a hard time about your breakups last year, much of it focusing on the 12 pre-teen kids you've fathered. Even though their basic care -- and by...

Read Post

A Tale of Two Horror Films

(3) Comments | Posted June 9, 2015 | 9:18 PM

Look at the bottom of this post and you'll see the images of two teenage lead actresses in recent horror films: one is the star of Insidious 3; the other, the star of It Follows. Both have reason to fear.

That's just about everything these two films -- one a...

Read Post

Five Ways Dads Can Make the Most of Their Dadhood

(1) Comments | Posted June 1, 2015 | 10:17 AM

Many divorced and remarried dads have deep insecurities about their new parenting roles, as if a dad's relevance is directly proportionate to the minutes and hours he spends with his children. But all dads are dads 100% of the time, just as all moms are still moms 100% of the...

Read Post

Unfriended: The First 'Found Facebook' Horror Film

(0) Comments | Posted April 16, 2015 | 6:16 PM

When I saw Unfriended with actual friends last night, I was expecting two hours (actually 88 minutes) of cheap thrills and lame gimmicks. After all, the story plays out entirely on a single teenager's computer monitor -- involving a dizzying array of social media platforms -- and rips the issue...

Read Post

Putting the Joy Back Into Gift-Giving

(0) Comments | Posted December 19, 2014 | 10:04 AM

My mother wasn't careful about hiding my big Hanukkah present of 1978. A quick scan of her closet's highest shelf revealed the coveted prize: a hand-held electronic game called Merlin. The box was too high to reach, but knowing it was there was sweet satisfaction enough.


Read Post

How a Pet Store Trip Can Teach Your Kids About Cruelty

(2) Comments | Posted December 3, 2014 | 3:24 PM

Originally posted at ASPCA Parents

As a kid, I grew up with a string of great dogs: a loyal German Short-Haired Pointer, a handsome and majestic Collie and an incredibly smart black Standard Poodle. I never thought twice about where they came from, or why that might even...

Read Post

Note to Divorced Dads: You Didn't Divorce Your Kids

(8) Comments | Posted August 12, 2014 | 2:56 PM

Having been through a divorce, I know the minute a divorced dad steps into his new life -- uncluttered by the toys, noise, and wall-to-wall responsibilities of the last one -- he can easily feel like he broke up with his kids as well as his wife.

At first there's...

Read Post

It Takes Over a Village: Calling Out American 'Mommyism'

(2) Comments | Posted July 16, 2014 | 5:58 PM

This essay originally appeared in StepMom magazine and is excerpted from "Small Things Considered: Moments from Manliness to Manilow".

"Excuse me," the mommy said, tapping my sister-in-law Jessica just below her shoulder tattoo. They were in a trendy frozen yogurt shop called Let's Yo!...

Read Post

A Letter to My Cat, Who Died This Morning

(4) Comments | Posted June 2, 2014 | 5:44 PM


When you took your final labored breaths this morning, I'm sorry I mistook them for typical heaves.

You were laying on the hardwood floor, looking under the bed; I thought you were staring at another cat or a toy. Maybe you were looking for the safe spot you...

Read Post

What's the Connection Between Memorial Day and Radio Countdowns?

(0) Comments | Posted May 26, 2014 | 4:41 PM

If we know nothing else, we know Americans love lists. We love to rank football teams, rock albums, cars, pizzerias, movies, former girlfriends, and anything else of which there's three or more.


Because we Americans understand -- more so than any other culture -- that some things...

Read Post

'Small Things Considered': A Father's Day Tribute

(2) Comments | Posted June 16, 2013 | 5:46 PM

Originally posted on

Back when I competed in middle school debate, my dad would rouse me early on Saturday tournament mornings. With night sky still hovering, I'd pull on my only blue suit, grab the thin attaché case that was once his, and he'd drive me to...

Read Post

Who Knew Guns Had Their Own Pro-life Movement?

(397) Comments | Posted May 2, 2013 | 10:01 AM

On Monday, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed legislation reinforcing existing laws prohibiting local governments from destroying weapons they collect from the community. This is the third law protecting the life of guns Brewer has signed since becoming governor.

Previous laws required municipalities to sell guns found or seized,...

Read Post

A Divorced Dad's Girl Scout Kookiness

(3) Comments | Posted February 5, 2013 | 9:24 AM

CONFIDENTIALITY NOTE: This email message may contain work product, non-work product, meat by-product or other information which is confidential, privileged, entitled, prissy, or simply dumb. This information is intended only for sole use of the sender, as well as anyone he accidentally copied, or anyone who happened to be in...

Read Post

A Parental Perspective on Super Bowl Lingo

(0) Comments | Posted February 1, 2013 | 2:50 PM

You'd be surprised how many common football terms can apply to the equally-combative and tactical world of full-contact parenting. So, in honor of Sunday's Super Bowl, I offer these offensive and defensive double-meanings. Which is your favorite?

First Down!
A parent's exclamation after the younger of two siblings goes...

Read Post

It's Still Man-ly to Like Manilow, Especially on Barry's Birthday

(14) Comments | Posted June 17, 2012 | 3:56 PM

I'm listening to Barry Manilow, and it's no accident. In my ears, Barry -- who turned 69 today -- is belting out "Weekend in New England" with unabashed diva dedication. And I like it.

My name is Joel Schwartzberg. I'm 43, a husband, a dad, and a Barry Manilow fan.

Read Post

The Case Against "Stepmother"

(12) Comments | Posted September 29, 2011 | 10:23 AM

When my wife Anne accepted me into her life, she also graciously accepted my "luggage": three wonderful kids aged 9-12. They love her and she loves them, with clear affection traveling in both directions. But Anne rejects the label "stepmother" for reasons that have nothing to do with parental responsibility,...

Read Post

Girls and Jersey Shore: An Unparalleled Mismatch

(52) Comments | Posted August 22, 2011 | 5:43 PM

Cynopsis Kids, the childrens' media news site, notes that, for the week of August 8 (but many, many other weeks as well), MTV's Jersey Shore was the #1 show for teens 12-17.

I don't watch Jersey Shore, but I certainly know Snooki, The Situation, Ronnie, JWoww, and Sammi...

Read Post

Under My Skin: What Happens to Newly-Divorced Men

(19) Comments | Posted August 22, 2011 | 12:45 PM

"So, what do you do?" my dermatologist asks, scanning a form on which my job clearly occupies a box.

Dr. Skin is a middle-aged man with a full head of hair, a remarkably leathery and pocked face, and a striking lack of sideburns.

I'm sitting cross-legged on a paper-covered...

Read Post

Six Ways Divorced Men Can Treat Themselves (and Their Kids) on Father's Day

(7) Comments | Posted June 19, 2011 | 2:38 AM

Traditional Father's Day gifts -- ties, books, wallets, gadgets, golf-themed junk -- ironically have little to do with kids. It's as if the very point of Father's Day is to distract Dad from the fact that he is one.

But for divorced and remarried dads in particular, Father's Day represents...

Read Post

My Oscar Moment... With Kevin, Barbra, Nicole, and Mom

(8) Comments | Posted February 25, 2011 | 11:25 AM

I attended the Academy Awards in 1991 and 1992. You may remember them as the years Dances with Wolves and The Silence of the Lambs took home top prizes, but it's more likely you don't remember them at all. I didn't go as a nominee -- that kind of honor...

Read Post