In The Name Of The Children
After 16 years of marriage, Victoria Secret Angel Stephanie Seymour and the polo-playing White Birch Paper magnate Peter Brant are divorcing. The infamous art collector who spent 84 days in jail in 1990 for tax evasion is now accusing Seymour of being an unfit mother to their 3 children – Peter, 15, Harry, 12 and Lilly, 4. Brant is asking that Seymour undergo drug and alcohol testing and according to reports has informed their daughter’s school that Seymour is no allowed to pick Lilly up.
The press sites court documents that speak to Seymour’s allegations that Brant’s behavior is, “hostile, intimidating and threatening”, and that he has changed locks, taken away her jewelry and worst of all involved the children in his campaign for custody.
A friend of the former Sport’s Illustrated model reports that Seymour told her, “It’s OK. I’m sleeping in the maid’s quarters”. “I’m doing the best I can to keep things amicable. I want to be the bigger person. But it’s tough. He’s playing very dirty with me”. While the maid’s quarter’s may be upscale in the tony home in Greenwich, the very thought of mommy bunking with nanny cannot be healthy for the Seymour/Brant brood.
Seymour filed for divorce 2 months ago citing that the marriage had “broken down irretrievably”. The two have been living separate and apart under one roof and seem to be staring in the latest version of the War of The Roses. No question that this family is caught in a media frenzy that will only be exacerbated by their reported comments, public statements and alleged behavior that cannot possibly be in the children’s best interest.
If Seymour and Brant are truly committed to protecting their children it will not be by way of informing the school that one parent is off limits, changing locks, defaming, blaming or alleging incompetence in the public domain. Instead, the parenting issues must be taken out of the public realm and dealt with privately and not in a way that provides their children with a lifetime legacy of pain. In the name of protecting their children they are maiming them.
Seymour and Brant are not alone as they move forward in perhaps well-intentioned but nevertheless misguided ways they believe are in the name of their children. They and others in the midst of high conflict divorce would be well advised to avoid the nasty game playing designed to hurt the other parent. If there are legitimate concerns regarding safety they need to be dealt with appropriately. Where the intention is simply to unbalance the other parent in the name of “winning” the divorce war, parents are best served to avoid:
1. Telling the children they are “protecting” them from the other parent.
2. Issuing public statements (to friends/family/media) that malign the other parent.
3. Involving third parties unnecessarily like the children’s: school, friends or caregivers.
4.Using the children as therapists or confidants.
5. Using the children as bargaining chips in the negotiation process.
6. Burdening the children with worry as one parent is unnecessarily reduced to sub-standard living arrangements like moving into nanny’s quarters, the basement cellar or the child’s bedroom floor.
7. Sharing court documents, emails, voice recordings, conversations or any information that concerns the legal dispute.
8. Keeping the children from either parent.
9. Sharing information that leaves the children feeling unsafe with the other parent.
10. Organizing a turf war in the matrimonial home.
Declining to comment, leaving the matter to professionals and sealing the record would go a long way to keep the Seymour-Brant divorce a private matter or a Victoria “Secret”. The children of divorce would be most grateful if their high-conflict parents behaved in ways that were far more tasteful and measurably more graceful.