The happy family. Photo by Instagram/Jennifer Lopez.
Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony split in 2011 — but whatever led them to divorce wasn’t on display over the weekend, when the two reunited to celebrate the birthday of their 7-year-old twins and posted a happy Instagram shot to prove it.
“Party time!!! HAPPY 7th BIRTHDAY TO THE COCONUTS!!” noted the caption, which included the hashtags “#thesetwoknowhowtoparty #twins#LOVE #familia.” The bash took place at Lopez’s California home and had a Minecraft theme, according to People, which ran a cover story with the star earlier this month.
"Marc and I have a good rapport," noted Lopez, who went on to date Casper Smart but is now single, while Anthony has been married to model Shannon de Lima since Nov. 2014. "We know the kids are the most important thing, and we fill in for each other where the other needs."
The family-birthday Instagram photo has drawn nearly 10,000 comments so far, with many focusing on how J.Lo and Anthony were the “best couple ever” and that they should “get back together!” But many go deeper, giving the duo serious props for having the fortitude to put their children first.
“You are a pioneer of the future, not a prisoner of the past. Congrats on your love for you and your children,” notes one fan, while another writes, “Happy to see your children are healthy and happy through peaceful co-parenting. Keep up the good work.” Yet another posts a rather impressed shout-out: “It’s great to see two parents get along for the sake of their kids. You guys should be proud because not a lot can do what you guys do, be in the same room. This picture is everything.”
Dr. Jeremy Gaies, a Florida-based clinical psychologist and family mediator and the coauthor of “Mindful Co-Parenting: A Child-Friendly Path Through Divorce,” agrees it’s a wonderful example. “In general, the most important thing is to make sure that kids have ample time with both parents, and to make sure the hostility between parents is as low as possible,” he tells Yahoo Parenting. “If parents are able to get along and not have arguments or be cold to each other in front of the children, then spending some family time together — especially to celebrate a special occasion like a birthday or graduation — is a good thing.”
On the other hand, he notes, if parents can’t be together without yelling, bickering, or glaring at each other, then family time wouldn’t be recommended. That’s because research — including the results of a large U.K. survey released in Nov. 2014 — has shown the most damaging aspect of a divorce on children is not the split itself, but the acrimony between parents. Kids fare quite well, in fact, when parents turn to mediation or therapy for help in maintaining civility both during and after a divorce — which is good to know in the U.S., which sees more than 800,000 divorces each year.
Some co-parenting exes get along so well, in fact, that happy family time is frequent, which leads some to angst over where to draw the line between making the kids happy and confusing them with hopes of a reconciliation. But Gaies says that, as long as parents maintain clear lines of communication with their children, family time should be encouraged. “If the parents are clear with children about what their relationship is, I don’t think it’s a problem,” he explains. “A good rapport is not a bad thing, but kids do have a natural fantasy about parents reconciling, even when they have gone on to marry other people.” So speak with clarity, he explains, even telling kids outright, “We’re not going to get married again,” he says. “We never want to give kids mixed messages.”
Gaies, who offers co-parenting counseling sessions to exes who are working through major hostilities, understands that getting to the point of civility can be easier said than done. “Just start by aiming for cordial,” he suggests, sharing the following tips for getting even friendlier: always put the children first, look forward and not back, communicate effectively, honor co-parenting agreements, maintain boundaries, and manage your emotions. “People often tell co-parenting war stories after a divorce,” he says. “But it is possible to all get along.”