Recently, Hrithik Roshan celebrated his 42nd birthday. While his family and friends attended the do, his former wife, Sussanne Khan (the couple got divorced in November 2014), was nowhere to be seen. In an interview with a daily the next day, Sussanne explained the reason for her absence, saying, “My relationship with Hrithik is wonderful with respect to our kids. We are good parents, and that is our priority. But, we don’t socialise or hang out together as friends.”
Hrithik and Sussanne are not alone.
In many cases, former couples maintain cordial relations with each other for the sake of their kids. Mishti Varma, founder of Creative Learning Arts and Performance (CLAP), a self-development centre for children and parents, says that to help the child cope with the trauma of seeing his or her parents separate, it is important for parents to go the extra mile to make sure they maintain good relations. “When parents part ways, the child’s world gets shattered. So, it is integral for divorced spouses to avoid any further damage by maintaining good relations with each other for their child’s sake,” says Varma.
She adds that while it is important for parents to be honest with their kids, certain things should be kept in mind before revealing the truth of the situation to the child. “They should consider the age of the child; the child should be mature enough to understand the reasons for their divorce. A divorce, in general, tends to bring about a shift in a family’s lifestyle. It is necessary to make this change a positive and a healthy one,” she says.
Children often find it difficult to cope with such circumstances, especially if they are very young. In such situations, parents need to assure them of their support. “It is necessary for the parents to let the child open up about his or her feelings. If he or she has something to say, they should listen, and let him or her express his or her feelings. Parents should also try and involve the child in their talks, as much as possible, so that he or she doesn’t feel left out,” says Varma.
Watch your words
Clinical psychologist Dr Kanan Chikhal says that divorced parents also need to be careful while dealing with the former partner in front of the child, as that leaves an impact on the latter. “One has to be sensitive when you meet your child and your divorced partner. Compassion for your former spouse is important as well. You need to let go of the anger. You cannot snub the spouse in front of the child,” she says.
Chikhal adds that too many changes in the daily routine of the child can also lead to trouble. For instance, over involvement or total lack of it can cause a problem. “For example, handling the kid’s education should continue as it was prior to the divorce. If both the parents were involved in it, they should continue to be involved. If one was predominant, then it must stay the same way,” she says.
Dos and don’ts
* Be open in seeking professional help
* Don’t belittle your ex-spouse, or his or her parents in front of your child
* Even if the spouse has made mistakes, do not keep highlighting them in front of the child
* Don’t throw away the spouse’s items from the house in front of the child
* Don’t check on your spouse’s life through your child
* Don’t let the child feel like he or she was the reason for the divorce. The child should feel like the parents are only physically apart, but still care for each other
* Don’t become detached from your ex-partner immediately.
— Dr Kanan Chikhal, clinical psychologist
Other celebs who parted ways
* Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale got married in 2002. Stefani filed for divorce in 2015. They have three children together — Kingston Rossdale, Zuma Nesta Rock Rossdale and Apollo Bowie Flynn Rossdale. A statement released by them, before their divorce last year, read, “While the two of us have come to the mutual decision that we will no longer be partners in marriage, we remain partners in parenthood, and are committed to jointly raising our three sons in a happy and healthy environment.”
* Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin got married in December 2003. Paltrow filed for divorce last year. They got together with their children, Apple Blythe Alison Martin and Moses Bruce Anthony Martin, and some of their closest friends for Thanksgiving last year, and regularly do so.
* Orlando Bloom married Miranda Kerr in 2010. They announced their separation in 2013. They have a son, Flynn Christopher Blanchard Copeland Bloom. Kerr recently spoke about the bond they still share, saying, “Flynn is our number one priority, so we are conscious of always making the decisions that benefit him the best. We have regular family days out together, which we all love.”
* Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner got married in 2005. They announced their divorce in June 2015. They also announced that post the divorce, they will continue living together in Los Angeles, USA, for the sake of their children, Violet Affleck, Seraphina Rose Elizabeth Affleck and Samuel Garner Affleck. They are often spotted together with their kids.
* Charlie Sheen and Denise Richards got married in 2002, and divorced in 2005, when Denise was pregnant with their daughter, Lola Rose Sheen. Last year, they celebrated their older daughter, Sam J Sheen’s birthday by dining out together at an eatery in Los Angeles, USA. Lola was also part of the party.
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