Of all the responses to Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt's separation, the most ridiculous isn't the slew of Jennifer Aniston-themed memes and GIFs invading my Facebook timeline. I can live with those (although FYI, people — Aniston and Pitt split up 11 years ago; let it go). What's really pissing me off are the comments slating Jolie for doing the wrong thing by her kids.
According to the judgy McJudgers of the internet, Jolie should stay with Pitt because they have six kids together. (I'm not sure whether the number six is significant, but "SIX! SIX!" people are shouting from behind their keypads. Would it be OK for her to file for divorce if they had only one child together? Or two? What about four kids?) These people think Jolie should just put up with whatever isn't working in her marriage — whether it's Pitt's fondness for a spliff at the end of a hard day, his tendency to flip his lid or any of the other unconfirmed "reasons" for their split — because they are parents.
Oh, and some of the commenters haven't got kids and have never been married. Um, sorry not sorry... No children, no opinion.
It's no surprise that so many people (women mainly, sadly) have unearthed their grubby old #TeamAniston T-shirts from 2005. Any excuse to bash Jolie the homewrecker, right? But whatever you may think of her as a wife, as a woman, as a man-eater of the highest order, there's not one shred of evidence that she's not completely devoted to her children.
Why can't we accept that she believes divorce is the best option for her family and is therefore doing the right thing by her kids? Don't all parents try to do just that? We take what life throws at us and do what we think is best for everyone.
The belief that divorce is a one-way ticket to an unhappy childhood needs to be shut down — now. Because it's simply not true. There's a ton of research showing that it's more harmful for kids to grow up in unhappy homes than to see their parents go through divorce, but I don't need to talk about that. I have all the proof I need under my own roof.
I don't have a $400 million fortune and global property empire. I don't, thankfully, have the world's media camped outside my front door (or doors, as the case may be), demanding to know why I'm divorcing my husband. I don't have six kids. But I have two, and just like Jolie, I chose to divorce their dad.
This is not a decision any parent takes lightly. It's huge. And although I know differently now, at the time, I was consumed by guilt that I was in fact wrecking my young kids' lives. They'll hate me forever. They'll hate their dad forever. They'll hate themselves forever. They'll start cutting at 10 and taking drugs at 12 to forget about their broken home. They'll never, ever be able to have a happy, healthy relationship. This was the kind of crap running through my head as I packed up our stuff and prepared to split up our family.
I'm not going to say it was all plain sailing. It was tough — for a long time. But a few years after we split, I can look back and say without a single doubt that I did the right thing for my family. I include my ex-husband in that family, because he's still my kids' dad and always will be. Life's not perfect, but we are — all four of us — for the most part content, happy and secure.
The key to not letting divorce ruin your kids' lives is simple: Always put them first. Leave your arguments and resentments and complaints at the door — or at least scream at each other when the kids are someplace else. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have all the money and resources they could possibly need to make their split as pain-free as possible for their six children. So quit hating on this mom for making a difficult decision that could actually turn out to be the best call for her kids.
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