The universe nearly imploded September 20 when Angelina Jolie allegedly filed for divorce from husband Brad Pitt. According to a TMZ report, which was later confirmed by CNN’s Brian Stelter, Jolie has requested sole physical custody of their six children, and cited concerns of “an anger problem.”
“Angelina’s decision to file has to do with the way Brad was parenting the children,” TMZ reported. “She was extremely upset with his methods.”
Pitt and Jolie have three biological children together (Shiloh and twins Vivienne and Knox) and adopted three others — Pax, Maddox, and Zahara. In a statement to People regarding the divorce filing, Pitt said, “I am very saddened by this, but what matters most now is the wellbeing of our kids. I kindly ask the press to give them the space they deserve during this challenging time.”
Previous interviews with both Jolie and Pitt indicated differing parenting methods that actually complimented each other, so what went wrong? Let’s look back at what the couple have said publicly about their relationship to their children, and each other, as parents.
In March 2014, Jolie spoke with The Sun about how Brad’s assumption of parental duties helped her cope with recovering from her double mastectomy.
“He loves being a father and that’s one thing I’m most proud of about him […] Brad is a wonderful teacher and guide, for the boys in particular. He likes to plan things and proceed in a very deliberate and methodical way. He is much cooler and calmer … I can be more impulsive and outspoken.”
Perhaps this “cooler and calmer” demeanour has shifted in the years since, given the alleged “anger problem” cited in the divorce filing.
As for Jolie’s approach to being a parent, a 2015 Wall Street Journal profile revealed some traditions in the Jolie Pitt household. Despite having homeschool teachers watching over the kids during the day, no babysitters or adult supervisors ever stay the night. “We wake up, we make breakfast. In our domestic life, we’re Mum and Dad,” Jolie told the WSJ. “And often we’re dorky Mum and Dad, which the kids find ridiculous.”
Pitt chimed in, lauding Jolie for her ability to always be active in the kids’ lives when she can. “When Angie has a day off, the first thing she does is get up and take the kids out,” Pitt said. “This is the most important ‘to do’ of the day. No matter how tired she might be, she plans outings for each and all.”
The interview was conducted around the time “By The Sea” premiered — a drama written and directed by Jolie which focuses on a couple struggling to reconcile after the trauma of a miscarriage.
When asked about the film’s subject of marital discord, Jolie said “so many times, people divorce very quickly. To me, if this film has a message, it’s that you have to try to weather the storm together no matter what. And that’s a beautiful thing.”
Jolie’s divorce filing included a request for full physical custody of their six children. Current speculation about the latest inner-workings of their relationship is just that — speculation. But it’s clear something has shifted in the way both Jolie and Pitt approach their children and the family unit as a whole.
A storm hit Brangelina that couldn’t be weathered, but hopefully their children will have stable parent relationship in the years post-divorce life to come.
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