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