The big announcement by Jon and Kate Gosselin that they are divorcing comes as no surprise. While they used the word “separate,” the program acknowledged that it has gone farther than that and that they have filed for dissolution of the marriage. I am terribly sad for the children. I thought of the Loretta Lynn song that has the parents spelling their words in a conversation about the end of the marriage so that their children would not understand what was going on.
Their children knew. And so do the eight Gosselin children.
I do not pretend that we can truly understand anything about anyone’s marriage, even one that has been so thoroughly documented. For example, Kate’s frequent on-camera criticism of Jon — she once famously barked at him for breathing — could be superficial, just a heightened form of teasing, or it could be the outward manifestation of something much more fundamentally corrosive. “Reality” television creates the illusion of truth, but every edit shapes the story. Every camera changes what is filmed. And what was true yesterday can change very quickly due to the influence of public attention.
But I think it is fair to say that the stress of eight small children and constant media scrutiny played added to the pressure on Jon and Kate and on their relationship. And I also think it is fair to say that it is a shame our society does not provide more support for couples who need some guidance to strengthen their connection and communication.
I still believe what I said earlier:
Jon and Kate will have to work out what is best for them and for their family. But we, too, should give some thought to the part we have played as their audience — whether for the show or for the salacious gossip. Were we too ready to believe the best about them? Are we too ready to believe the worst?
Families with children who are fans of the show should be prepared to talk about what is going on and to provide reassurance that the eight children will still see both parents and that sometimes grown-ups do not get along but they never stop loving their children.