Divorce Mediators Weigh In On Why Shiloh Jolie-Pitt Decided To Drop Her Father's Last Name


  • Relationship experts and divorce mediators Joe and Cheryl Dillon recommend that divorcing couples — like Brad and Angelina — avoid speaking negatively about the other parent to protect kids’ relationships.
  • An amicable divorce minimizes tension and confusion and focusing on children’s well-being is essential, but Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt made some missteps.
  • Being under intense media scrutiny amplified the challenges faced by the Jolie-Pitt kids during their parents’ divorce, and Brad and Angie missed an opportunity to mend fences.

Despite the rumors about the beginning of their relationship, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie once seemed like excellent examples of thoughtful and caring celebrity parents. However, once their split went public, so did allegations that Brad Pitt was anything but a good father — although Angelina Jolie faced a few barbs of her own. Brad dragged Angelina for trying to sell the winery they jointly owned, and Angelina lodged claims that Brad was abusive.

Amid Angelina apparently telling her kids to avoid their dad and Shiloh’s decision to drop Pitt from her hyphenated last name, we couldn’t help but wonder how all the fighting impacted the kids — and whether things would have been different if the family wasn’t famous. To get answers, we turned to Joe and Cheryl Dillon, relationship experts and divorce mediators at Equitable Mediation, for insights into how divorce can harm kids and their relationships with one or both parents.

Here’s what we learned about Angelina possibly turning her kids against their father, whether a more amicable divorce could have salvaged the kids’ relationships with Brad, and how celebrity comes into play.


Angelina Jolie’s Six Kids With Brad Pitt: What To Know

Here is everything that you need to know about the six kids Angelina Jolie shares with Brad Pitt.

Is Angelina Jolie Turning Her Kids Against Their Father?

Angelina Jolie And Brad Pitt on the red carpet of AFI Fest.
Via: Instar

Amid news that a psychotherapist labeled Brad Pitt “selfless” and that Angelina Jolie forced her kids to take sides during the divorce, it’s easy to see why some speculate that Angelina is purposely turning her kids against her ex.

Joe and Cheryl Dillon pointed out something most divorced parents quickly learn: “It’s crucial to set aside personal feelings and speak positively about the other parent for the duration of your children’s lives.”

Addressing rumors that Angelina pushed her kids to take sides and spoke poorly about him, Joe and Cheryl elaborated, “Separated or divorced parents should avoid making negative comments about each other or using children to gather information. This puts children in the role of an informant and will result in them inevitably feeling caught in the middle, experiencing a pull of loyalty and a fear of hurting either parent with their actions.”

Pitting kids against the other parent can “increase their anxiety and be harmful to their development.” Instead, Angelina and other parents in similar situations should refrain from “bad-mouthing the other parent and consistently taking the high road” to alleviate their children’s feelings of guilt.

However, the kids’ estrangement from Brad might not be all Angelina’s fault. Joe and Cheryl note, “During the divorce process, it’s common for a child to ‘pick a side.’ This might happen because they sympathize with one parent, feel the other has been mistreated, or due to sibling rivalry and the desire for attention.”

What’s more, Joe and Cheryl suggest that in cases like the Brangelina divorce, changing surnames may indicate that a child wants to “‘stay loyal’ to one parent.”

While Brad (and other parents) might see this as an affront to their parenthood, it can be an attempt for the child to feel more included in the family unit or even help reaffirm their identity, say our relationship experts.

But the Dillons also have one specific piece of advice Brad Pitt would do well to take: “Regardless of how a child reacts to the divorce, it’s important not to take their words or actions personally, and act out of love and respect for them.”

Could A More Amicable Divorce Have Helped Shiloh And Her Siblings’ Relationships With Dad Brad Pitt?

While Angelina Jolie might not be entirely to blame when it comes to her kids’ broken relationship with their dad, it seems like the famous former couple missed some steps while prepping to separate. For one thing, it seems like they didn’t focus on ensuring their kids had consistency amid this big life change.

Angelina Jolie Brad Pitt and their kids 3
Via: Instar 

Our relationship experts point out that an amicable divorce requires both parents planning their separation to minimize tension, disagreements, and confusion for their children.

Initially, telling kids about divorce or separation can be a difficult conversation, but an essential one that shouldn’t be delayed. Kids are smart, and may well sense the tension and emotions between their parents at home, so it’s important for both Mom and Dad to address any concerns as soon as possible to minimize emotional harm or feelings of resentment.

Joe and Cheryl elaborated that “answering children’s questions and addressing their fears in ways suitable for their age group is key.” Given that the twins, Vivienne and Knox, were only about eight years old when their parents split up, if Angelina and Brad didn’t handle things well, that could contribute to the disintegration of parent-child relatonships.

“For the younger children involved in this divorce, disruptions in day-to-day routines can be stressful, so it’s important to try to keep things as normal as possible,” Joe and Cheryl explained. “If there are circumstances under which there will be a big change, they should be adjusted to a new environment slowly.”


Angelina Jolie And Brad Pitt’s Daughter Vivienne Drops Her Father’s Last Name As Legal Battle Heats Up

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt’s daughter was credited as Vivienne Jolie in “The Outsiders” playbill.

Given how sudden Angelina and Brad’s divorce seemed, it’s possible they didn’t introduce the concept to their kids slowly. Their young kids — the twins plus then-10-year-old Shiloh, 11-year-old Zahara, 13-year-old Pax, and 15-year-old Maddox — later seemed to have a rift with their dad, but that could be due to many issues amid the divorce.

For one thing, Cheryl and Joe point out, “Slightly older children may sympathize with the parent who has left the family home, wondering if they are okay. The role of a parent in this situation is to support the child, answer any questions they may have, and reassure them that both parents are ok.”

While teenagers can be more in tune with the breakdown of their parents’ relationship, the Dillons say they “may brush it off, they still require emotional support, similar to tweens and younger children, but in a less intense way.”

Based on Pax, the second-oldest child, blasting his dad on social media years later, it doesn’t seem as if Brad and Angie supported their son well during the split.

Would The Divorce Have Affected The Jolie-Pitt Kids As Badly If They Weren’t Famous?

Divorce is always challenging for families, but Joe and Cheryl Dillon suspect that being under Hollywood’s scrutiny didn’t help the Jolie-Pitt kids at all.

The Dillons noted, “In any divorce, there will be a temptation for couples to lay blame on one another for what went wrong, and this is amplified even further for those under the glare of intense media scrutiny. Yet sometimes, the reason for a split can be down to something as simple as differing priorities and interests, or that the couple have become ‘familiar strangers’ with someone they once shared everything with.”

Shiloh Jolie-Pitt out in the city
via Instar

With all the mud-slinging, of course, it seemed like there was more to Brad and Angelina’s split than growing apart. Still, their fame didn’t help the situation any — for them or their kids.

Involving fame-hungry Hollywood lawyers who will be looking for any opportunity to tear down the other party will be like throwing gasoline on a fire, leading to a confrontational, hostile, and drawn-out divorce battle, as unfortunately seen in [Brad and Angelina’s] example.

With high-profile Hollywood lawyers, fans watching their every move, and their kids in the middle of it, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt seem to have made some poor decisions during their divorce.

Only time will tell whether Brad can mend his relationship with his kids — and whether they’re even interested in reconciling.