It is heartbreaking to read the details of any couple’s divorce, much less a celebrity couple, whose divorce will ultimately be more public than a private couple. The recent separation of Joe Jonas and Sophia Turner is a reminder that even celebrity couples can suffer relationship damage along with the turmoil of legal battles and custody disputes.
Darlene Taylor, MSW, CPC, has some advice and tips to offer the celebrity couple in hopes that they, too, can create a loving and supportive environment for their two small children.
“The split of Joe Jonas & Sophia will likely bring unwelcome flashbacks to those who have lived through the pain of divorce. Those first few months are incredibly difficult, filled with raw emotions and intense uncertainty about the future. And amidst all that, parents strive to keep it together enough to be great parents and to work together to care for their children. It is a monumental task, to be sure, and one that often seems impossible as you take sides in a war against the person who was supposed to be your forever ally.
I am sure both parents believe they have the law behind them, supporting their specific desires for their children. Their versions of what got them to this stalemate are miles apart; in most cases, the truth lies somewhere in the middle, and it will take some time to get to it.
In the meantime, you have two hurt and angry individuals dealing with the disintegration of their happily ever after and doing it all in the public eye, no less. I can’t imagine the additional layer of trauma this adds to an already painful chapter of their lives. And in the middle, you have two sweet little girls desperately needing their parents to figure it all out before this war leaves any lasting battle scars.
This split is like most divorces in that there are no villains. Both sides have friends and family around them who believe that to support their loved one, they must paint the other parent as the monster and them as the victim. And unfortunately, more often than not, children are used as pawns in that game, leaving them as the real victims when the dust settles.
Undoubtedly, both Jonas and Turner believe that what they want is what’s best for their children, and one would be hard-pressed to convince them otherwise. In reality, the best thing for those girls would be for their parents to figure out how to listen to each other and focus on their genuine need to have both their parents in their lives consistently and peacefully. There is no refuting the research: that is the best-case scenario for children in most circumstances. They owe it to their daughters to try to get this right and give them the best outcome, even if it does not look how they originally planned.
The saving grace in all this may be that the children are very young and will likely have no memory of the rocky road it took to get them to a place of peace and cooperation. Like all children of divorce, they need to feel as much safety and security as possible through this process, which will require their parents to work together.
Three tips for parents to keep their kids’ mental health a priority:
- Check yourself & your motives – Are you digging your heels in about what you want because you know it will hurt the other parent, or do you genuinely believe it is best for your children? It is hard, but this is the time you have to find a way to focus on the parent they are instead of the partner they didn’t turn out to be. Those are two distinct roles, and the former does not change just because the relationship did.
- Recognize and deal with your grief – Divorce is a loss, and you are likely reeling from your world being turned upside down. Give the grief and name and get outside help to walk through this with you. Give yourself the grace and space for these emotions, but realize that this has to be kept separate from parenting. Recognize that what might feel like the right thing for you (being in the place/country where you are most comfortable and feel most supported) may not be what’s best for your children right now. Find the best way to start the healing process for yourself while still honoring that your soon-to-be ex also plays an essential role in your children’s lives.
- Be willing to compromise – The art of compromise means that neither side gets exactly what they want, so understand that you both will have to give up a little of what you want to get the best outcomes for your children. This is an art you will continue to practice throughout the co-parenting journey, and your children will do best if you lean into its mastery.”
If you’ve currently gone through a divorce or are trying to find a fair co-parenting resolution, you can find more divorce and co-parenting advice in Darlene Taylor’s book, It’s Not About Us: A Co-parenting Survival Guide for Taking the High Road. In it she shares 15 of her hard-won pieces of wisdom that helped her own family find their co-parenting high road, and hopefully, it can do the same for you.
About Darlene Taylor: Darlene is a certified professional parenting and life transitions coach, in addition to being a therapist and clinical social worker. As an author and speaker, Darlene’s superpower is helping people see the very best in themselves and achieve things they never thought possible. Before moving to Los Angeles, she was a Gender Studies professor at the University of Cincinnati. When she is not writing, you can find Darlene hanging out with her daughter in Los Angeles and dividing her free time between obstacle course races, the beach, and the tennis court. Her current book is titled, It’s Not About Us: A Co-parenting Survival Guide for Taking the High Road, and is now available as an audio book here.