By Rosalind Sedacca, CDC
In today’s world Hollywood celebrities are major role models in our culture, especially to the younger generation. For that reason I keep an eye on the movie-star set to see what they’re doing in their relationships. It always makes for great conversation within the Child-Centered Divorce community.
Too often the examples we see are poor ones. So many celebrity relationships end in ugly divorces and child-custody suits. Happily, however, there are some admirable exceptions. These couples are stepping up to taking more responsibility for their behaviors before and after the divorce. They are talking about the issues affecting their children and seem more aware than in the past about the consequences for children when a divorce gets nasty.
Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner are prime examples of putting your family first. They get together for church, special events, holidays and other family time. This reminds their children that they are still a family, which is one of the most helpful messages kids can get from their parents.
While the Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie divorce has been painful for us to watch (and for them to go through), I am heartened by the message from both parents that they are always focused on the well-being of the children and will continue to parent from that perspective. I hope behind the scenes neither one is bad-mouthing or blaming the other parent for the break-up. That is always a no-no because it’s hurtful for the children to hear and comprehend. It forces them to take sides, which is stressful for children of any age, even teens.
Several years ago singer/actress Jennifer Lopez was quoted during her divorce saying, “I feel very proud of the way we’re handling it. I really do. We are doing the best we can for the kids. It’s very dignified and we’re trying to be above all the emotions and pain that come along with a divorce and a family breaking apart. This is grown-up stuff. It’s real, serious, grown-up stuff.” How right she is!
With her former husband Marc Anthony the couple has elementary school aged twins who are not old enough yet to feel the divorce in the same way that middle school-aged children and older teens do. But it still impacts their lives and we acknowledge the attention directed to the children in her public statements.
For several years now Reese Witherspoon and her former husband Ryan Phillippe have been modeling positive co-parenting behavior worthy our acknowledgment. “My ex-husband is very involved in raising our beautiful children,” said Reese. She explained that she and Ryan were fortunate enough to share very similar parenting views. As many of us know, this is a key factor in easing the transition into co-parenting. I’m pleased and impressed that Reese has discussed her post-divorce parenting relationship in greater detail than most celebrities. She focuses on issues that are relevant for all parents and co-parenting seems to be working for them.
Denise Richards divorce from Charlie Sheen generated considerable tabloid space and continues long after the divorce itself. To her credit she seems to have her priorities in place regarding parenting and has kept Charlie as a loving dad figures in the children’s lives, despite his questionable behavior in 2011. She says it’s been working for them, especially for the children. We never want to punish them for circumstances out of their control.
What we can learn from positive celebrity divorces
While celebrities are not the models I would hold up to learn from, what they do and say gets considerable media attention. It especially influences the youth generations who get much of their information about relationships and parenting issues from social media sources.
So when a celebrity makes statements about putting their children’s needs first when making parenting decisions, we applaud them. We like to hear them discussing parenting issues, discipline strategies, family rules and the values they want to instill upon their children.
Of course divorce is far easier when parents are in alignment about basic values and beliefs. Not all of us are blessed with Exes who share the same life principles as we do. Some of us face far more difficult roads to travel in our post-divorce parenting. And for many, co-parenting is not at all possible.
However, we all can take away some meaningful lessons from any couples who are handling parenting well. The more we work together with our Ex – because we both love our children – the more stable their lives will be. We can explore being more flexible and accommodating to our Ex if it results in more collaboration and cooperation when it comes to parenting decisions.
It’s certainly worth the effort, don’t you think?
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Rosalind Sedacca, CDC is a Divorce & Parenting Coach, Founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network, and author of How Do I Tell the Kids About the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children – With Love! To learn more about the ebook, visit //www.howdoitellthekids.com. For Rosalind’s free ebook on Post-Divorce Parenting, her coaching services, expert interviews and other valuable resources on divorce and parenting issues, visit: www.childcentereddivorce.com.