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Britney Says Goodbye to Her Children

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What this means and how the public downfall of their mother will affect her kids--and yours.


Over the last two years, we've all watched the Britney Spears saga unfold. It is admittedly fascinating--but also impossible not to wonder about the impact on her children.

In an apparent settlement, Spears has agreed that Federline be awarded sole physical and legal custody of Sean Preston and Jayden James. The agreement still has to be approved by the court, but both parties want this deal. Once Britney is stable enough for her father not to be her conservator, her visitation will increase and eventually custody could be 50/50, according to E! News.

Every time we hear a new late-breaking update, our hearts break a little bit more over the turmoil this family is in and for her two children. We called friend of momlogic Dr. Pamela Varady for her perspective on how something this traumatic impacts Britney's kids, and how to talk to your own brood about Britney.

The Impact on Britney's Kids

Too Young to Remember: Since Britney's kids are just 1 and 2, will they be able to remember any of this in the future? "Most people think they're so young, they won't remember it, but that's just not true," explains Dr. Pamela, a clinical psychologist who has not worked with the Spears family, but is a parent educator. "For them, this will be what is scientifically called an 'implicit memory.'" With this type of memory, a previous experience will impact and influence your actions without you having any conscious awareness of the previous experience itself. "Plus, every single minute is documented in pictures and on video," she says, "and that will also make them recall this...the same way you might look at a photo of yourself at Disneyland from when you were three and be able to remember."

Short-Term/Long-Term Impact: The short-term impact, says Dr. Varady, is that it may be very hard for them to trust any caregiver, as people have so often come and gone in their lives, she adds. "Sean and Jayden may not be able to instantly recall the things that happened to them before they were two, but those experiences will impact the way they connect with others for the rest of their lives," she explains. "They'll likely be wary of letting themselves get too close to others, and it will be hard for them to let down their guard."

The Impact on Your Kids: You may still be reeling from conversations with your kids about how Jamie Lynn had a baby, but now it's time to figure out what to say about Britney's falling star--it's impossible to miss it. Events like these are great teachable moments, but many moms (including many of use here in the office) feel a bit awkward about broaching a topic like this with our kids. When having this kind of discussion, resist the urge to talk too much or to lecture. To really resonate, this needs to be a two-way dialogue. First, find out what your kids have already heard about the situation, and ask whether or not they have any questions. That's the perfect springboard for a deeper, more meaningful conversation. To help, we asked Dr. Pamela for some pointers on having an effective and age-appropriate discussion with your kids about Britney:

If your child is 8 or younger: If your younger child isn't asking about this, leave the topic alone. However, we heard from a few moms today who said their grade schoolers were asking them about Britney, and they were unsure how to respond. According to Dr. Pamela, the best response for this age group is: "I think Britney is having a lot of problems--she's very sad and upset. That's why it's so important to tell mommy when you feel sad or upset, so I can help you."

If your child is a tween: When talking to tweens, Dr. Pamela says you can delve a little deeper and mention Britney's alleged substance abuse problems. She recommends using the following script: "Britney is obviously having a lot of problems--she's depressed, stressed, and angry. That's why she started using drugs and alcohol. But I want you to come to me when you feel depressed, stressed, or angry, so you don't suffer the pain that Britney is experiencing."

If your child is a teen: Obviously, you want to mention Britney's substance abuse and emotional issues with your teen, and make sure your teen knows that he or she can always come to you with any problem. But because so many teens these days want to be famous, Dr. Pamela says this is an ideal opportunity to discuss the downsides of fame. "Say, 'Britney is one of the most famous people in the world, but look how depressed and miserable she is. All I want is to for you to have a happy life.'" It's also a good time to establish more positive role models for our kids, says Dr. Pamela. "Not many families discuss who won the Nobel Peace Prize around the dinner table, but maybe they should. Talk with your teens about people who are doing medical research, working on philanthropic projects, or working to save the environment." This will help your teen replace role models like Britney with ones worth looking up to.

Always remind your kids that if they have questions about this or anything else, they can always come to you and you will try to answer as best you can. The ultimate goal is that they will understand the door is always open, and they can talk to you about anything and everything. If Britney can help us get that point across, so be it.

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13 comments so far | Post a comment now
rosemary July 18, 2008, 3:16 PM

Britney was not on drugs or alcohol. Se was always ‘squeaky clean’ Sh missed court dates at the time and that is why she lost custody, the ‘drug abuse’ thing was alledged but never confirmed.

Joan July 18, 2008, 3:17 PM

While i think this is tragically sad, i am happy her kids will be with their dad. I hope she finally gets the help she needs.

shawna July 18, 2008, 3:39 PM

I don’t know britney as a person have never seen how she is with her children
So I will not say anything bad or good about how she is with her children
lets all hope that what ever happens with the children they are cared for and loved and don’t grow up to see all the media stuff thats going on with them now and hate their mother

Anon July 18, 2008, 5:39 PM

I think Britney should not have any more kids.

Jen July 18, 2008, 8:59 PM

umm, how about we stop putting everyone’s personal life all over the news and internet? A fellow human’s fame for acting or singing or whatever does not make their personal life anyone’s business but their own. Keep it out of the news and then the children won’t be harmed. Let’s all stop taking part in the gossip machine. It is undignified.

RA July 18, 2008, 10:23 PM

It takes a special, certain kind of person to make k-fed look like father knows best. Iquess it’s all for the best.

Tuesday July 19, 2008, 12:02 AM

Britney obviously needs help. Her kids are much better off being with Kevin 100% of the time for now. IF Britney so chooses to get help and succeeds, she should have the choice to see her kids again. I don’t think we’ve seen the complete rock bottom of her life yet though. She needs to go to jail like every other celebrity, THEN she’ll get better… maybe. =-)

HicksvilleRUs July 19, 2008, 12:50 AM

Sheesh, it’s like “Kramer vs. Kramer” meets “The Beverly Hillbillies”.

Patrice July 19, 2008, 4:19 AM

“… the ‘drug abuse’ thing was alledged but never confirmed..”

that’s only because she shaved her head bald, remember??

ashley July 19, 2008, 10:25 AM

I guess some of you don’t watch the news or whatever but Britney is getting better. She has been dancing and working out and not acting like a crazy or a british person in a few months.

Anonymous July 19, 2008, 11:19 AM

Britney is yesterdays news. Her career is done.

brandi July 19, 2008, 12:33 PM

She still has visitation just not the primary parent. I think the media is making too much out of this- she also gets to seethem more than she does now and that is more than she could have gotten if they cont. to fight about it. I think she is getting her life under control.

czrz July 19, 2008, 11:06 PM

I think it’s sad and &*cked up that she lost her kids from beginning. My childs father has done much worse,with the only difference being he doesn’t have paparazzi following his every move. It’s a tragedy, and her mental break because of it is justified. We would all do the same.

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