By Kenneth Barilari
Since the news of Aneglina Jolie and Brad Pitt’s split broke, countless rumors have been flying speculating Jolie’s reasons for filing. This makes us over at #HipNJ wonder what this is like for the couple’s children. We spoke to Michelle Lodato, LCSW , licensed clinical social worker, about the effects of divorce on children, and the impact of being in the public eye.
On the impact of divorce on children:
“The impact of divorce on children depends completely on how the parents choose to parent at this time. Divorce itself doesn’t have to be completely life-altering if the parents can keep some consistency. They need to speak to each other to co-parent, and not badmouth the other parent, putting the child in the middle. That’s when issues will arise where kids will act out with bad behavior because they do not know what to do with that tension. So, it is really up to the parent to help the child so that divorce doesn’t have to highly impact them.”
On the differences that these children face because they are in the public eye:
“If rumors of police involvement are true, police and Child Protective Services would be questioning the children. This particular family has that, in addition to media. Now, more than ever, microphones and cameras are in their faces. It’s not going to be totally new, but there will be more. So, it is up to the parents to protect and shield them with co-parenting.”
On how to maintain normalcy with their jet-setting lifestyle:
“That’s all these children know. They don’t know typical suburbia life. All they’ve ever known is jet-setting, so communication is key to maintain their version of normalcy.”
On how divorce impacts young children vs. teenagers:
“Children don’t know what to make of the word “divorce.” It all comes back to the parents describing what the divorce will mean to them. If the parents have said, “You will now have two homes with two parents. We both still love you, we are both still here for you, and we will always take care of you,” then divorce doesn’t have to be a scary word. As children bring things up when they’re on their mind, parents need to respond accordingly. At any age, the children don’t need to know every dirty detail of the divorce, but they do need to be hearing reinforcement. With older children, you can expect more verbal conversation since they have the cognitive ability to verbalize their thoughts and feelings.”
On the impact of the press:
“Since they’ve always been in the press and public eye, children will be exposed to a lot of rumors. However, this is nothing new for the family. Hopefully the parents come together and present these things to the children long before they hit the public eye, so that they have heard firsthand what is going on and that their parents both still love them.”
On whether or not this could have been done differently to protect the children:
“At this point, there is so much speculation as to why she filed. If she filed to protect the children from him, she set a good example that domestic violence is not allowed. She would then be modelling for the kids that such behavior is not acceptable and you should not stay with someone who treats you that way, showing the kids, “This is not a healthy relationship and I’m ending it.” Angelina is showing the children that domestic violence is not okay and she is there to protect the children.”
We would like to thank Michelle Lodato for speaking with us and shining a light on the impact of divorce on children. Her private practice, Essex Counseling Center, is located in Millburn. She helps adults and children alike with struggles within their families, giving them the tools to cope in a healthy way moving forward.