According to People magazine, the children of the Pitt-Jolie union have entered therapy because the “situation is traumatic. ” Well, sure it is.
For starters, the price of fame means these kids will forever more be able to Google their entire family troubles, enthusiastically chronicled by a frenzied press.
In today’s society, scores of reporters, bloggers, YouTubers and keyboard warriors itch to serve (and share) the dirt that satisfies an almost endless public appetite for salacious gossip.
Somewhere amongst it all, for the Brangelina kids, will be nuggets of truth, much more though will be simply click bait and other rubbish.
Much worse for the kids, though, will be the very public rumours spread around concerning their father’s alleged behavior, which triggered the filing for divorce in the first place. This will be especially true if this is not the kids lived experience of knowing Brad Pitt as closely as they do. It could easily lead to anger, confusion and resentment, and could result in the siblings turning on and blaming Maddox for the demise of their family unit.
The swirl of rumours about Brad Pitt has all the appearance of a deliberate media leak by team Jolie.
In the battle for protecting the public image that celebrities rely on to earn money, she’s taken the first shot. Pitt, by contrast, has remained low-key, focused on the children’s welfare, co-operative and, if he continues this way, will almost certainly win the PR war over the longer term.
The problem with starting rumours in the heat of the moment is that often we regret it later – the Internet has an endless memory.
Worse of all, negative rumours lay the foundations for a broken, acrimonious co-parenting future that impacts everyone, but often means kids suffer more than is absolutely necessary.
As adults, we enter relationships. If we decide to exit them, it’s important to continue to behave as adults and place the children’s welfare above our own. This means, however wounded, parties must speak well of each other, so that the kids are not pawns in a game, where the goal is to force them to choose a side.
Except in cases of clear-cut abuse, both parents have a right to have and nurture relationships with their children. Just because adult parents may find this idea unpalatable is not sufficient reason to stop putting your children’s best interests first.
Helping Children Through Divorce:
1: Let them grieve.
Your children have lost a parent, a family unit, potentially their home and the life that they have grown up with. They will grieve this loss; it’s a huge transition for young people to make. Let them be angry, talk about frustrations openly and express their disappointment. Normalise and validate how they feel. It’s okay and very human for them to grieve the loss. It’s normal.
2: Get them help if needed.
Sometimes we all need someone to talk to. A trained counselor with experience in working with children can be a good starting point and also offer parents strategies to help work towards peaceful transitions.
3: Remind your children that both parents love them.
Often children blame themselves when parents divorce. If they were better behaved, if they kept their rooms tidy, maybe the parent would not have left. It’s so important that your children know both parents love them, even if one parent keeps messing up.
While they are still children, telling your children they are loved, despite having parents that live in different houses, can help prevent long-lasting self-esteem problems.
4: Encourage children to spend time with both parents.
Using your children as pawns hurts them. Unless there is a clear-cut case of abuse, one parent has no right to deny the other parent of time spent with their children. Say goodbye with a smile and welcome them back with a hug. Don’t fall into silence, be warm and chatty as you normally are with your kids.
5: Focus on your co-parenting future.
Separations lead to anger, bitterness, resentment and a host of other keenly felt emotions. Both sides tend to be defensive. Know that time helps you both to heal and move past the heat of the moment.
If you set up the situation for poor relationships in the future, you shouldn’t be surprised if this is what the future serves up. As hard as it is, it’s important not to publicly speak negatively about your ex – and never do it in front of your children. If you want to vent, turn to your closest friends or a counselor.