When Parenting Differences End In Divorce

When Parenting Differences End In Divorce
22 September 2016

Look, I know loads of you are going to cry 'Who cares?' in response to the fact that we're passing comment on the news that Angelina Jolie has filed for divorce from Brad Pitt after ten years together and two years of marriage.

But bear with me here, because I care.

No, not because they're A-listers or in the public eye or even because of the media frenzy around them which makes it virtually impossible to avoid hearing about the details of their divorce. I care because there but for the grace of God go all of us.

News reports allege that Angelina filed for divorce because of the way Brad was parenting the couple's children. She is said to be "extremely upset" with his parenting methods, and a legal representative confirmed that Angelina made the decision for the "health of the family" – whatever that truly means.

Laying aside their stardom and the other alleged issues in the couple's divorce proceedings (as well as the background to how their relationship began and his marital status at the time), this news made me pause because I've had moments in my own marriage where I've wondered if we're just utterly incompatible, and those have almost always been triggered by disagreements over issues relating to our kids.

If there are two opposing ways to tackle an element of parenthood, you can virtually guarantee that my other half and I will find them. I'm a stickler for boundaries and routine but he has an innate sense of adventure and spontaneity - which, indeed, were two of the things I found most attractive about him when we met a decade before we had a child together. But isn't it one thing to pick your life partner based on the things that drew you together in the first place but quite another to navigate your way through different approaches to parenting together?

I can't think of an issue in our marriage that causes more stress or strain than differences of opinion when it comes to our kids. We want and need to be on the same page as each other when it comes to our kids so when we're not, it feels like the family is falling apart. Factor in the kids getting wind of the fact that Mum thinks 'x' but Dad thinks 'y' and it's surprising how quickly family life can seem to unravel before your very eyes.

None of us wants to be there yet I know few couples who - if they were being really honest - could say they've never questioned the future of their family life because of painfully different approaches to parenting. I also know plenty of couples who directly cite parenting differences as a factor in the breakdown of their relationship.

So yes, I care that Brangelina is to be no more but that's not because I'm shallow or celebrity-obsessed. It's because I think the ending of their story points all too clearly to something that many of us know all too well - that you can love someone so much that you want to start a family with them and yet struggle to handle actually being family together.

Yes, there are a million and one more important issues in the news to focus on. But I care because I believe marriage can be 'made' to work if you want it to; that compromise is always key to dealing with conflict, even where kids are concerned; and that differences can always be ironed out. And this news undermined those convictions – even just for a moment.

Because, of course, celebrities don't live the same kind of lives that we do, and the pressures of fame on family life must add something to the mix that I can never comprehend. So, sad as I genuinely am that Brad and Angelina apparently couldn't make things work, I'm all the more determined to keep believing in happy endings.

What's your view? Is your faith in family life challenged by the latest celebrity divorce or does it make you determined to tackle parenting differences for the sake of family life? Share your thoughts in the comments below or join the conversation over on our Facebook page.

TOPICS:   Parents

1 comment

  • Kimberlie R.

    Simple what I say goes me and my husband have an understanding if I'm doing the day to say care while he works that I choose how to parent our kids x

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