It's not their fault: Talking with your kids about Brad and Jen
Be honest. Children are very perceptive. Don't lead them to believe "Brad's just away shooting a film with Kevin Costner," or "Jen's got that Vanity Fair cover shoot in Vancouver this week." Children need straightforward answers to help them confront problems and begin to learn how to deal with real-life issues.
Listen quietly. Your child will likely have dozens of questions: "Is this because Along Came Polly tanked?" or "Did George Clooney's famously swinging lifestyle and tight-knit friendship with Brad have any influence on the marriage?" Don't try to interrupt these questions with a "fix-it" statement, like mentioning you just saw Brad on Diane Sawyer and he was talking about children. Your child will have many feelings, assumptions and concerns about the breakup of the high-powered Hollywood couple. Allow him or her to work through these issues verbally.
Don't put your child in the middle and force him or her to choose a side. Explain to them that it's still perfectly fine to enjoy both Friends and The Mexican. Curtail renting movies starring Angelina Jolie. It's important that your child realize that break-ups are a common part of life, and equally as important that your child still appreciate the oeuvres of both of these acclaimed celebrities.
Reassure your child that this separation will have no effect upon the work. Let him or her know that Jen's still planning on shooting Derailed with Clive Owen, and Brad is still scheduled to appear on Letterman Thursday. It's crucial that your child discover that while marriages end, life continues forward, and both Brad and Jen are still the same Tinseltown stars America has come to love through their quirky, endearing and memorable roles.
Read together. While denigrated by the "legitimate" press, bring home copies of The Star or The Enquirer and look at them together with your child. Seeing Jen on the Riviera or Brad attending a star-studded gala at the Bellagio will help your child more quickly come to terms with the split and send subtle messages that both parties are happier as a result.
Let your child know that it is perfectly normal for him or her to wish that Brad and Jen will get back together. Children can often feel ashamed of this very normal wish. Gently explain to them that while it is unlikely, his or her wish for reconciliation is understandable. In the short term, steer your child clear of "red carpet" specials or televised awards ceremonies. In time, this feeling will lessen and your child will learn to deal, on his or her own terms, with this devastating loss.
When you cry about Brad and Jen's divorce, try to separate yourself from your child by moving to an upstairs room, or by taking a drive alone to collect your thoughts and feelings. These crying jags are going to be necessary for both children and adults after such a dream-crushing separation, but these will eventually subside. And both you and your child will inevitably be able to move on. During this emotional time for our country, it's important to remain strong -- both for you and your child.
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