Gwyneth Paltrow and ex-husband Chris Martin: From “conscious uncoupling” to successful co-parenting. (Photo: Raef-Ramirez/AKM-GSI)
Say what you will about Gwyneth Paltrow’s skills as an actress or her transition into a lifestyle guru. One thing’s for sure: Her commitment to co-parenting is admirable and inspiring.
Paltrow and her now ex-husband, Chris Martin, “consciously uncoupled” in March 2014. Yet they maintain homes nearby in the same Los Angeles neighborhood, take vacations together with their two children — Apple, 11, and Moses, 9 — and meet up regularly for Sunday brunch.
“We’ve gone through really difficult times, but we’ve always said these children are our priority,” a relaxed and candid Paltrow told an audience at She Knows’ BlogHer15 conference on July 17.
Paltrow said that after she and Martin split, they were determined to stay close to their kids and maintain a different kind of family. “I think, unfortunately, even though we couldn’t stay in a romantic relationship, our values are very much around the importance of family. … We thought if we could maintain the family but change the shape a little bit, that would be ideal,” she explained.
The former couple’s co-parenting strategy meant being upfront with her kids about the breakup and explaining that it won’t change their love for each other or their kids. She told the audience: “I said, ‘You know that Daddy and I are really famous and there’s going to be a lot of stuff out there, [but] … you know how much we love you and you know we love each other.’”
Paltrow didn’t shy away from mentioning the bumps in the road. “We’ve gone through really difficult times with it, but we’ve always said these children are our priority … so that means even though today you hate me and you never want to see me again, we’re going to brunch, because it’s Sunday and that’s what we do.”
Ultimately, she gave big props to Martin for his support and commitment to co-parenting. “I’m very, very lucky in that I have a partner who is willing to do it with me in a really collaborative way,” she said. “And I’m really for Chris, and he’s really for me.”
Her remarks get a thumbs-up from experts. “The No. 1 predictor of how children do when their parents divorce is how their parents get along,” Amy Morin, psychotherapist and author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, tells Yahoo Parenting. “When parents get along with one another and continue to work together after they’re separated, divorce isn’t all that traumatic for kids.”
Paltrow’s praise for Martin is a crucial key to successful co-parenting. “The No. 1 rule when it comes to divorce is to never say anything bad about the other parent within earshot of your child,” Fran Walfish, a Beverly Hills-based family and child psychotherapist, tells Yahoo Parenting.
“Your child is 50 percent you and 50 percent your ex, and when you put down your ex, your child interprets it as putting her down,” says Walfish. “When you support and praise the other parent, you give your child permission to love and respect that parent as well.”