Chil­dren are bet­ter off with both par­ents, An­gelina...

The Scottish Mail on Sunday - - News -

AN­GELINA JOLIE and Brad Pitt’s epic di­vorce is fi­nally reach­ing the courts next month, with An­gelina de­mand­ing sole cus­tody of their six chil­dren – and Brad in­sist­ing it should be joint.

No doubt An­gelina is de­voted to her brood, but I can’t un­der­stand why any­body would think they are mak­ing their chil­dren bet­ter off by depriv­ing their fa­ther of an equal part in their up­bring­ing.

Di­vorce is hor­ri­ble for all con­cerned and, usu­ally by the time one gets to that point, re­la­tions be­tween the par­ents are arc­tic.

Both par­ties will take an extremely hos­tile view of al­most ev­ery­thing about each other and be ready to cite a zil­lion ex­am­ples of their ex’s ap­palling be­hav­iour.

But chil­dren don’t feel the same. They have tremen­dous loy­alty to both par­ents and learn early on to nav­i­gate be­tween the two camps.

They hate to hear their par­ents slag­ging off each other and gen­er­ally de­cide that to­tal dis­cre­tion is the wis­est modus vivendi – rarely telling one par­ent any­thing about their time with the other.

I re­mem­ber freak­ing out when I learnt, through a third party, that my son Sam, then six years old, had slept in his fa­ther’s Ma­jor­can bar dur­ing his stay with him. But Sam never men­tioned it to me, nor seemed par­tic­u­larly put out when I raised the topic.

Chil­dren are very accepting of each par­ent’s char­ac­ter and, as they grow up, in­stinc­tively un­der­stand their re­spec­tive strengths and weak­nesses.

There have been count­less times when, an­noyed as I may have been with my ex, I have known that he would have a bet­ter take than me on one of our child’s wor­ries. At mo­ments like this, shared re­spon­si­bil­ity is a re­lief.

Di­vorced par­ent­ing is never easy but the best thing you can do for your kids is to try to en­sure they have an equally strong re­la­tion­ship with both par­ents. This is far more likely to be achieved if their cus­tody isn’t en­trusted to only one – and they aren’t fought over like a prop­erty port­fo­lio.

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