You are parents forever, even after divorce. That conventional wisdom resonated this week with the new dust-up between Peter Cook and Christie Brinkley. As we reported this week, Cook apparently violated a confidentiality agreement by deciding to appear on 20/20 with Barbara Walters tonight.
Brinkley swiftly tried to then bar the philandering father from seeing her two children, Jack and Sailor, this weekend.
But a Long Island judge played Solomon and found a solution. Cook can take the children but as Brinkley's lawyer explained, he "has to be away from his home and he can't expose them to the 20/20 broadcast."
Cook claimed he wouldn’t have exposed the children in any case, but the children are seen in the 20/20 broadcast.
A person close to Cook said, "I find it silly that someone who not only allows her children to be in the media but encourages it would have a complaint like this."
The people who should have a complaint are the children.
I’m glad that Sailor and Jack have each other as confidantes since they are caught in the middle like fish in a net while their parents continue their hostilities. Children want to love both parents, and when thrown into an ocean of he said/she said charges, they are left confused, conflicted and hurt. At least they have each other as they swim through these murky waters.
That is no small thing. Often siblings in divorce form enduring bonds.
Forgiveness is difficult when you are co-parenting after a hostile divorce. Christie Brinkley clearly didn't want to have those wounds reopened by a Barbara Walters interview with her ex.
But Cook wanted to clear the air, have his reputation mended, and not be perceived, as he told Walters, as "a pervert." Anyone in this position must learn to compartmentalize. Once you are divorced, you have to accept “that was then, this is now.” You have to put it behind you, and move on.
I’ve been a stepfamily coach, and I’ve often had to counsel families that they have to practice patience after the divorce. The children will eventually make their own decisions about their parent's behavior and figure out what they admired and didn't admire. What they see will become a template for their future lives as parents.
And parents can only be the best people they can be. They can’t be perfect.
Of course, most parents charge their spouses with things like lax discipline, a lack of respect for religious upbringing, or perhaps considering nachos an evening meal. When you have a headline-making, nasty divorce, the complaints about betrayal and bad behavior cut even deeper.
One wonders what it will be like when Jack or Sailor grow up. Hopefully by then some of the pain Brinkley and Cook feel about this divorce will be over, and they will have established a truce.