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What's Left Unmentioned: The Children Of Celebrity Divorce

Madison Paglia |
April 9, 2014 | 1:10 p.m. PDT


Learning to bring the kids back in the picture (Twitpic/The Sun Showbiz)
Learning to bring the kids back in the picture (Twitpic/The Sun Showbiz)

Headlines sweeping the Internet and magazine stands have forced the divorce of Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin into the eyes of the public. The media is milking every shard of information about the couple’s secret love affairs or supposedly reckless behavior that led to their marriage’s collapse—and this overwhelming wave of media coverage and public thirst for all the details has not spared their two children. 

While the media may be fascinated by the marital discord of the famous actress and musician, they are generally less concerned with how Apple, nine, and Moses, seven, may be affected by watching their family fall apart in the public eye. 

Psychologist Paul Riley, who specializes in clinical psychology, says that whether the child is a celebrity or not, the impact of a divorce is almost always tremendous on a child. That being said, however, it’s a more complex situation for celebrity children because they are robbed of their privacy from a very young age. 

“You’re dealing with more variables and dimensions when it’s a celebrity divorce,” Riley said. “These things that are usually handled in a private matter are now known and handled by society because of the couples public status.”

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“We are parents first and foremost, to two incredibly wonderful children and we ask for their and our space and privacy to be respected at this difficult time,” read the initial post announcing the couple’s divorce on Paltrow’s lifestyle website GOOP. 

Although the couple has made this message clear to the public, media outlets continue to update the public on any piece of information that leaks out about the couple’s relationship. 

According to Cleopatra Abdou Kamperveen, a child development expert and assistant professor at the University of Southern California, children directly suffer from negative byproducts of things that are typically considered positive or admired. For instance, being wealthy, powerful or famous are all socially admirable but can also really damage or take away from the healthy development of a child. 

In this particular case, the media’s coverage of the couple’s separation is a negative byproduct of their fame, the effects of which will now befall the kids. 

The media’s behavior touches on the much bigger issue of society looking past what harm is enacted on kids in exchange to get the inside scoop, according to Kamperveen. 

 “There is a common human decency or respect that should be exercised,” Kamperveen said. “But, sadly, this doesn't always happen. Nevertheless, the bottom line is that the paparazzi would not capitalize upon opportunities to make what should be private experiences public if consumers did not drive demand for this.”

It’s easy to blame the “media” for capitalizing and publicizing on private celebrity matters, but it is the public desire for private information that drives the media’s content in the first place. 

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“Well all the kids have to do is search ‘Gwyneth Cheating’ and the gig’s up anyway,” writes Cate Meighan on the entertainment news site “Dirty Laundry.” “How much stuff is being swept under the rug here? Don’t worry folks because we will learn about all of their dirty laundry and hang it out there for you to see.”

A study on the impact of marriage and divorce on children by Dr. Patrick F. Fagan displays these tremendous long-term effects on children in the United States. By charting the results of a national survey over fifty-years, Dr. Fagan was able to visually depict family trends in American families. His study found that children of divorced families suffer from long-term effects.

“The children of parents who reject each other suffer: in deep emotional pain, ill health, depression, anxiety, even shortened life span; more drop out of school, less go to college, they earn less income, they develop more addictions to drugs and alcohol, and they engage in increased violence or suffer it within their homes,” according to the study

 SEE ALSO: Tish And Billy Ray Cyrus Become Statistic In US Divorce Rate  

The study also illustrates how divorce rates have changed American society over the years. For every hundred children born in 1950, twelve were born to unwedded or divorced parents; by 2000, the number had climbed to sixty. On a larger scale the study concludes that this has contributed to an increase in “gangs, more assaults, more violence against women and children, more sexual abuse of women and children and much bigger bills for jails, increased need for health care, supplemental education, addiction programs, foster care, homelessness programs.”

As people are becoming increasingly desensitized to divorce, people have begun to overlook the harmful effects it has for children of celebrity parents in order to focus on what everyone else seems to care most about: the never-ending rumors and juicy gossip. 

Contact Contributor Madison Paglia here.



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