Breakups at the best of times are never easy, but imagine going through one in the public eye? And imagine doing it with kids? According to actress Kate Hudson, talking in an interview with Allure magazine about her recent breakup with Muse frontman Matt Bellamy, it was a “seamless transition” for her family.
Hudson explained, “Relationships ending are painful, and you can choose to carry that or you can choose to reframe it. If Matt and I had a great relationship, we would still be together, but we chose to move on because we had different visions of how we wanted to live our lives.”
But admirably, she’s made sure that her children are her priority. “[It] doesn’t mean, though, that we can’t rebuild something that would be the best thing for the kids. […] We said, ‘We need to try to create something for the kids where they feel like they’re gaining something rather than losing something.'”
Hudson and Bellamy began dating in 2010 and got engaged in April 2011. Three months later, Hudson gave birth to their son Bingham, who is now 4. She has another son, 10-year-old Ryder, with her previous husband Chris Robinson.
So what motivated Hudson to be so proactive in maintaining good relations with her ex? Turns out it came from her own childhood experiences and upbringing. She said, “Being someone who has come from a broken family and has a stepfather, I really benefited from having that very consistent [presence] in my life, and it’s something I am mindful of and want in my life.”
It is a sentiment I am really familiar with. Having had a chaotic childhood of my own — one of banging doors, fights, tears, silences, and me feeling like a go-between — I am determined that my kids will not see my husband and I behave in the same way. Sure we argue, but the kids also see us being affectionate with each other every. single. day.
When I was growing up, I was often used as a peace-keeper, a moderator between my parents. One would ask questions about the other, grilling me for information. Sometimes I would take on the role of pawn when they wanted to have one up on the other. I remember a time when suddenly both of them demanded to see me on my birthday, or spend Christmas with me, and I often wondered if their need was genuine or just to appear to be the better parent. Was it a competition, with me as the prize?
When parents become friends after a breakup, it saves kids a whole world of heartache. Not only that, it sets an amazing example: just because we don’t live together anymore, doesn’t mean we can’t be friends. It is hard enough for kids to transition from having both parents around full time to suddenly only seeing them separately, so if they can be buddies and talk up the other one, then that makes things a lot easier.
Hudson talks about having her stepfather as a consistent presence in her life, and I was lucky enough to have the same. Above all, I think kids want routine and consistency. Both my children seem more secure in knowing their bedtimes, the days when they do sports, knowing who will be picking them up from school, and having the same weekly order in their lives. I had to create my own structure as a kid, as I lived out of three houses and carried a permanent overnight bag. I am certain that the loss of control that I felt growing up has added to my need for control as an adult and is at the very root of anxieties that I suffer from.
For example, my husband thinks I have OCD, as I am always tidying the house and insisting everything needs to be in its place. A psychologist once told me that in not having order as a child and feeling out of control, I now am making it a priority in adulthood, sometimes to my detriment.
I do know that if my parents and stepparents had all gotten along, I would have enjoyed far more milestone events in life, such as my graduation from college, my wedding, and bringing home my babies for them to meet. It is only now, in my early 40s, that they all have put aside their differences and welcome each other into each other’s homes, spending Christmas together and minding my children together. These days were a long time coming — half my lifetime — but instead of being bitter, I’m just enjoying them now that they’re here.
In everything that we do, our kids are little sponges, soaking up our casual comments, our jibes against our partners, our outlooks on life. So the more harmonious we can be with our spouse, partner, or indeed ex — the better in every way it will be for them. Kate, I’m with you!