Challenges The Couple Face Co-Raising Their 3 Kids
Ten years and one day after saying “I do,” Hollywood power couple Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner announced they’ve split.“After much thought and careful consideration, we have made the difficult decision to divorce,” the couple said in a joint statement released Tuesday. “We go forward with love and friendship for one another and a commitment to co-parenting our children, whose privacy we ask to be respected during this difficult time. This will be our only comment on this private, family matter. Thank you for understanding.”The pair first met on the set of “Pearl Harbor” in 2001, and began dating in 2003 after co-starring in “Daredevil.” Their marriage and growing family has been the subject of constant media scrutiny.Helping their three children – Violet, 9, Seraphina, 6, and Samuel, 3 – cope with the split is their top priority, experts say. The kids are often photographed with their parents.
“Ideally co-parents should create a shared understanding on how to best raise their children,” says Ben Michaelis, Ph.D., a New York clinical psychologist and author of Your Next Big Thing (Adams Media). “That will reassure children they are still loved and that their well-being remains paramount to both parents.”
Co-parenting is an arrangement in which parents who are no longer in a marriage or romantic relationship take care of their children jointly.
Living apart, but close by
To get the family over the hump and ease the way for the parents’ shared decision-making process, Affleck apparently will live on their property, in separate housing, for a while.
Experts applaud that move, as long as Affleck and Garner maintain a civil relationship and keep their kids in the loop.
“This sort of arrangement works well as long as both parents are transparent and honest with the kids [about] their individual lives and … their lives together,” says John Mayer, Ph.D., a Chicago-area author and psychologist who specializes in treating adolescents. “The important thing is that any couple in this situation doesn’t live a lie.”
That means they don’t tell the children they’re still a couple, when in fact they’re not. Mayer says this is a mistake many un-coupled couples who still live together make.
“They tell kids that they aren’t divorced,” he says. “Then when one of the parents does something that’s unusual for a married person to do, like [go on a] date, the kids get confused.”
If parents can’t remain civil and respect each other’s privacy, living together – even in different structures on the same property – probably isn’t recommended, Mayer says.