Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes' Divorce: 'Top Gun' Star Needs to 'Normalize' Things for Daughter Suri, Says Family Therapist
The six-year-old has been followed by paparazzi since her birth in Apr. 2006 -- and will certainly be in the public eye now that her famous parents have separated.
According to Dr. Philip B. Dembo, family therapist and author of The Real Purpose of Parenting: The Book You Wish Your Parents Read, 50-year-old Cruise needs to "normalize" things for the tiny tot in order to help her go through the couple's surprise divorce.
With recent reports saying that Cruise will see Suri for the first time since the split very soon, how should the Hollywood dad act in front of his child?
"The news of her parents divorce only acerbates the intensity of that experience for this little girl," Dr. Dembo told Celebuzz.
"Communication becomes critical here between parent and child."
"He needs to make the moment usual and normal and not some big moment of pain," Dr. Dembo added.
"The more Tom normalizes the time with Suri, the easier it will be for her to live in this new schedule. Normalizing means that the two of them should behave and do what they usually do."
However, with Cruise' divorce settlement reportedly stating that the actor must refrain from any mention of Scientology around his daughter, it'll be hard for him to be "normal" when he's so deeply involved in the religion and church.
"Tom must not blame Katie for his inability to share with Suri these beliefs. He needs to stay positive with Suri and explain to her that adults have beliefs that they get to choose as they get old enough and one day she too will get to learn about all the different philosophies and ideas and choose for herself what works for her," Dr. Dembo told us.
"This is going to be difficult for Tom because one of the tenets of Scientology is to be evangelical and spread the word, teach the philosophy."
Likewise, Dembo stressed Holmes too needs to establish a line of communication with Suri -- especially regarding Scientology.
If Suri every becomes curious about her father's religion, Holmes must be able to speak openly about it to her daughter, the therapist added.
"Like all parents whose children are inquisitive about the things that a parent may be uncomfortable with, Katie needs to empower her daughter to keep an open communication about all the things she is interested in. Otherwise, Suri will feel the need to go 'underground' with her exploration and never let her mother know what she is doing," Dr. Dembo told Celebuzz.
"Right now, Suri needs to be happy, and have fun with the people that love her. She needs to walk away feeling not as if she isn’t allowed to know it but that it’s not time to know."
Suri, who will be spending the majority of the time with Holmes in New York as per the custody agreement, needs to be given a daily ritual, according to the relationship expert. He added:
For Suri to have a "normal" growing up, given that she is the daughter of two high profile celebrities, the more her parents can ritualize her life the better. She needs rituals of time with each parent, rituals of meaningful private moments and ritualized social time with peers. Why rituals...because rituals help us feel safe and prioritized. Suri needs to know what she can count on and when. As these rituals become part of her lifestyle, the relationship with each parent is something she can count on and a safe place to communicate with each of them. Kids of divorce need to feel they can count on something consistent. It’s going to be critical for Suri.How should Suri cope bow that her father will be moving back to Los Angeles?
"The key for Suri to heal is to be set in her new routine, her new rituals, and have the safety to communicate about how she feels about the changes," Dembo says.
"She is a little girl with a lot of eyes watching her every move in life. It’s time for things to stabilize without anymore huge changes."
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