From Vogue Magazine:
Like many a twenty-something, I suspect, I took the news of Brad and Angelina’sdivorce harder than I did that of my own parents’ breakup (I may or may not have bought a tabloid or two). If celebrities are the Greek Gods of our time, then Brad and Angie were Zeus and Hera, and whatever crazy stories we might hear about them from time to time, they would always remain the king and queen, a mother and father figure as stable as they were unpredictable. But down here in the real world, perhaps the most surprising thing about the Brangelina decoupling is that it was so long in coming. Anybody who has ever had a child, let alone six, or anyone who has been a child (which is anybody reading this), should know that an unstructured, multinational living situation, combined with world-class humanitarianism—and, oh yes, high-flying Hollywood careers—would have to be something of a myth.
When my mother told me she and my father were separating, I can’t really say I gave a damn. I’m sure that declaration is worth a few dozen therapy hours, but in that moment, at eight years old, I was far too absorbed in taking out my cornrows than I was in listening to my mother explain how “things might be a little different from now on.” That was that, and the next day I found myself sitting with my father at the Our Name Is Mud children’s pottery studio painting what, if memory serves, was a Passover goblet for Elijah.
And then after that I totally disassociated and gave myself amnesia. Just kidding. But in all seriousness, it’s kind of cool how quickly a child’s self-protective reflexes will swing into action. It’s not as if I didn’t understand what was happening, I just wasn’t ready to care (typing that sentence, honest to God, just made my entire life make sense. Note to self: Send form letter to the Jolie-Pitt offspring ASAP.) The less I acknowledged it, the less it existed as my reality. Because—I’ve corroborated this theory with zero people—kids aren’t interested in being unhappy and they’re definitely not interested in their parents’ unhappiness. They’re interested in training bras and Minecraft and drinking caffeinated soda. Above all, they’re interested in preserving the illusion that their parents are superhuman—or at any rate, free of any human needs that might compromise their children’s security.
It may seem that the simple admission of divorce or separation would be a clear indicator that the parent is, indeed, of this world—but here’s the thing: Since kids have no real concept of what marriage is, they certainly don’t have the emotional bandwidth to understand the complexities of divorce. Kids should come to realize their parents are flawed and riddled with shortcomings in their own time. Even now, in my mid-twenties, I probably have about an 8 percent better understanding. But here are a few things I do know:
Stick to the Script
If you can’t have the talk with your kid together, have the same spiel separately.
Kids Don’t Need the Details
Keep it simple and uncomplicated. The main point is to say it with love.
Don’t Undermine the Other Parent
Your child is your child, no matter how old, not your friend. Air your grievances elsewhere.
Don’t Make It Worse
In fact, make it a little better. Go-karting and banana splits are great distractions from sadness.
Don’t Share Your “Happiness”
If your kids are not interested in your unhappiness, they doubly don’t want to hear about your new true-love-to-end-all-loves. Unless you’ve decided to put a ring on it, no need to introduce any consenting adult into their lives.
Obey the Golden Rule of Divorce
“They didn’t ask for this.” About to blame your child for leaving the Spanish textbook at the other parent’s house? Find your rosary and repeat the above. And while you’re at it, have two sets of everything feasible on your presumably non-Brangelina-size budget.