The media appears to have gone into a frenzy in the last 24 hours with the news that Angellina Jolie may have filed for divorce from Brad Pitt. The rumours as to what has caused this event are already plentiful. There seems to be an unspoken notion that somehow a celebrity couple divorcing is somehow a greater surprise than a non-famous couple separating.
The reality is that couples separate every day and each one will have their own tale to tell – and each person in the couple a slightly different story to the other. Our lives are busy with work, family, children and other commitments and it can be hard to make time for each other. This can cause a couple to stop communicating. There may be disagreements leading one person to withdraw and stop communicating for fear of simply setting off another chain of arguments. Sometimes both parties withdraw into their own separate lives.
Whatever the stresses and strains facing a couple the reality of relationship breakdowns are real for couples across the world, and across all walks of life. They are also real for their children. Children of parents who are very wealthy, or who travel a lot, or who have “celebrity” status are no more immune to the difficulties caused by their parents separating than any other child. All can find it an upsetting, lonely and confusing time.
The good news is that if parents handle their separation in a sensible and constructive way, carefully managing their communications with each other, and their children, they can minimise the negative effects for their children.
Mediation can be a great way to help parents resolve what will happen going forwards. This includes working out what time each child will spend with each of their parents. It can also include any decisions about where a child will live and go to school. Children can also have a say in the mediation process, if the parents feel that this would assist. Other experts can also be used alongside the mediation process to help parents tune in to what their children need. Sometimes when you are overwhelmed by what is happening to you, and the number of decisions you need to make, it can be difficult to tune in to other’s needs.
A couple who travel a lot, or work long hours can still use mediation. It’s a flexible process that can be ‘tweaked’ to make it work best for the couple involved – and their children.
Where a couple are considered to be high profile there can be a desire to see all the details splashed all over the newspapers as people joyfully gobble up all the details. Spare a thought for the children of the couple involved. They may also have the gory details thrown at them by friends, or by the internet, and it may be the last thing they want to hear. Children are children regardless of who their parents are and they have the same need to feel loved by both parents, to feel free to have a relationship with both parents; and to be listened to, and have their wishes and feelings heard.