Kanye West and Kim Kardashian have reportedly said they want to peacefully co-parent their four children together as they divorce. But signs already suggest the opposite will happen. 

Page Six reported the two don’t have direct communication, with West allegedly telling Kardashian she should contact him through his security. The two don’t even interact with each other when their kids switch residences, the report said. 

Unfortunately for the Kardashian-West family, this bitter and angry mindset will likely lead to pain for their kids — not to mention a prolonged legal battle. Having worked with thousands of couples facing divorce in my 15 years as a clinical psychologist, I can say with conviction there are right and wrong ways to break up. And, with the COVID-19 pandemic expected to fuel a spike in divorce worldwide, more couples and their children could be headed for a painful fallout that could be avoided. 

My client Vivian, 17, exemplifies the effect a “bad divorce” can have on children. She came to me over a year ago, complaining of excruciating migraines and stomach pain. When we started to dig into her symptoms, it became clear that they started when she began planning her upcoming high school graduation. This brilliant, hardworking young woman was considering skipping her graduation (where she would be getting numerous awards), because she could not imagine inviting her mom and dad who had not spoken since they divorced when she was 11. By giving each other the silent treatment for years, her parents had literally made her sick. 

Demi Moore and Bruce Willis clearly figured out how to divorce well — they even quarantined together during the pandemic.
Demi Moore and Bruce Willis clearly figured out how to divorce well — they even quarantined together during the pandemic.
Instagram

One bad divorce can also lead to more bad divorces. My client John was depressed and anxious as he faced his third divorce in 10 years. (While 50 percent of first marriages end in divorce, that number shoots up to 67 percent for second marriages and 73 percent for third.) When I asked John how he exited his prior divorces, he said matter of factly, “It was a clean ending. No contact, no fuss, I had the lawyers handle everything.” 

Because John had never faced up to any of his feelings about his prior relationships, he still carried anger and resentment and just kept jumping into marriage after marriage, repeating a disastrous pattern. 

Choosing a bad divorce is the ultimate act of self-sabotage. My client Krishana was so filled with rage at her ex that she could not be in the same room as him. If she ever got your ear at a party she would tell you for hours all the terrible things he had ever done. By the time she came to my office, she had to take Ambien to sleep, two espressos to stay awake and was on leave from her job. When I asked how much time she thought her ex was talking about or thinking about her, her mouth shot open. 

Since divorcing, Caitlyn and Kris Jenner kept the dialogue flowing — reportedly unlike her daughter Kim in her own split with Kanye West.
Since divorcing, Caitlyn and Kris Jenner kept the dialogue flowing — reportedly unlike her daughter Kim in her own split with Kanye West.
Dimitrios Kambouris

“Oh, my gosh, probably never,” she said. “Why am I wasting my time on him?” 

Rage and anger are a natural part of breaking up, but in a good divorce, those feelings need to be expelled before moving on. I tell my clients to regularly play heavy metal music, roar in the mirror or punch a pillow to let the heat out. Many lawyers ask me to counsel their clients before they start the divorce process because they know couples who’ve purged their feelings will keep legal proceedings more grounded and rational throughout. They’re even more likely to get what they want out of the divorce settlement and save thousands on legal fees. 

Even after the ink dries on the settlement, couples can maintain a good divorce by not icing each other out. Research shows that positive communication between a divorced couple is related to fewer socioeconomic consequences for their kids, while also lowering their children’s risk for anxiety, depression and aggressiveness. 

On a recent podcast, Gwyneth Paltrow revealed that while her 2016 divorce from Chris Martin was a painful heartbreak, she “learned more about [herself] through that process than [she] could have imagined.” By focusing on what she could control — herself, not the past or her ex — she became able to properly co-parent her two kids with Martin and find a new life with her husband, Brad Falchuk. 

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen, aka "The Divorce Doctor," reveals how to get divorce right in her new book.
Dr. Elizabeth Cohen, aka “The Divorce Doctor,” reveals how to get divorce right in her new book.
Tamara Beckwith/NY Post

Kanye’s own mother-in-law, Kris Kardashian, has said that she had to come to terms with her own struggles when her long-term partner, Caitlyn Jenner, began the process of transitioning from male to female. 

“We have two children together,” she told Harper’s Bazaar. “It’s important for my kids to see our family strong and united.” 

Kim and Kanye would be wise to follow her lead. As I’ve witnessed with countless clients over the years, divorce doesn’t have to destroy a family. And it could actually help make it stronger than ever before. 

Dr. Cohen is the author of “Light on the Other Side of Divorce: Discovering the New You” (Mango), out now. She offers a free, 14-day guide, “Afterglow: The Light at the Other Side of Divorce,” for couples facing the pain of divorce.

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