Jon and Kate Gosselin Split: 'Reality Has Come to Reality TV'

Parenting experts say split will be hard; urge couple to focus on co-parenting.

June 22, 2009, 4:10 PM

June 23, 2009 — -- The separation of Jon and Kate Gosselin, stars of TLC's "Jon and Kate Plus 8," will be difficult for their children, parenting experts told "Good Morning America."

"Kate and I have decided to separate," said Jon Gosselin in Monday's episode.

"Yes, we have decided that we will separate," echoed Kate Gosselin.

Ten minutes before the conclusion of the episode, text ran over the screen stating, "On Monday June 22, 2009, legal proceedings were initiated in Pennsylvania to dissolve the 10-year marriage of Jon and Kate Gosselin."

In divorce papers obtained by The Associated Press, Kate said the marriage was "irretrievably broken." She also said that they have not yet been able to agree on how to divide their joint assets.

The word "divorce" was never once uttered during the 60-minute program. Kate said her biggest fear was "the label that we failed. How that will affect our kids, how they'll be another statistic."

"GMA" parenting contributor Ann Pleshette Murphy said the split would pose "a real challenge" and represent "a really hard time for the kids."

She said that it can be difficult for 5-year-olds like the Gosselin sextuplets "to have the cognitive ability to understand" the situation, and that the older children could struggle with feelings of shame.

"Some real reality has come to reality television," said relationship expert Terry Real. Noting that 40 percent of marriages end in divorce, he also said the Gosselins have "an opportunity to be real role models. … We can watch them put their egos aside and be good co-parents. America's never really seen that."

Filmed separately during Monday's show, Jon and Kate both discussed their feelings about the decision to split up.

"It's life, it's a roller coaster, it's the way it happens," said Jon. "Sometimes you just go off the tracks."

He went on to say that the separation was a "shame" and that he would always love Kate, the mother of his children.

"I'm excited as well because I have a new chapter in my life," added Jon, who said he was still unsure of what the future will hold.

Real said Jon Gosselin let his wife "kind of wear the pants in the family."

One of the open secrets of couple's therapy, he said, is that "a lot of men are afraid of their wives; a lot of men are passive."

"When you do find your voice, I want you to bring that voice back into the relationship," Real said. "Unfortunately, a lot of people wait too long."

Kate, who was crying through most of the episode, admitted she was "not fond" of the idea of a separation but that she saw no other choice.

"It's a fork in the road and goals are different now," she said. "But I don't hate him. Never have, never will. He's the father for my children. They're great kids. The best."

Despite Jon's assertion that he still loves her, Kate said that he won't even speak to her now.

Kate Gosselin: 'Jon and Kate Plus 8' Not to Blame for Split

Kate admitted that she's had days in the past couple of months where she has "sobbed harder than she ever has in her life" and where she has "hyperventilated."

"I'm tired of smiling on the outside when I'm crying on the inside," she said. "I've been doing that for a long time.

"I don't want to be alone. I don't want to do this alone. But it's required and I've got to do it," Kate said.

As for the future of the hit show, both Kate and Jon seemed unsure of how filming would continue, and both said they would continue to shoot the program, albeit separately.

"It's day by day for me," Jon said. "I could get offered a job and that would change the whole schedule."

On Tuesday, TLC announced that a retrospective of the Gosselin's first 10 years would air on June 29, and then the show would go on hiatus until August 3. After the time off, "a modified schedule will be in place to support the family's transition," TLC said in a statement.

"TLC continues to support the Gosselin family and will work closely with them to determine the best way to continue to tell their story as they navigate through this difficult time."

The kids will remain in the family's Pennsylvania home while Jon and Kate will "flip-flop" in and out of the home.

"This is their house, they love it here, we bought it for them," Jon said.

Ann Pleshette Murphy said that many divorced parents adopt so-called "bird-nesting," where "the kids stay in the house, and mom and dad fly back and forth."

"While I know it will be hard for them, and it's not what I wanted for them and it's very, very difficult. It is going to be the best and the most peaceful," Kate said.

Earlier in the episode, Jon did not make any attempt to hide his disdain for the paparazzi, who have been hounding him and his family for months.

"We have soldiers dying in Iraq, and all these people care about is what I eat for lunch," he said.

Kate suggested that she believed the separation would have happened with or without the reality show.

"This is the next chapter," she said. "Not a chapter that's been brought on by our show, not a chapter that's been caused by our career choices at all.

"I believe it's a chapter that would have been played out whether the world was watching or not, in hindsight," she said.

Real said that the show, which brought economic security and celebrity to the couple, was likely not the sole cause of the split.

"I think that the show is stress … both negative and positive stress for this family," he said. "Stress doesn't cause the cracks; it may accelerate it."

'A Rough Time' for Jon and Kate

When the couple was not discussing the status of their marriage, the tension between Jon and Kate was palpable throughout the episode.

The couple fought about the location where playhouses for the kids would be built as well as whether the family's dogs should be put in crates while the family had a picnic outside.

Even Kate commented on how she and Jon were going through a "rough time behind the scenes."

The announcement of the Gosselins' separation comes afterf a tumultuous several months for the reality TV couple, who have dotted the tabloid headlines amid rumors of infidelity and speculation about the breakup of their marriage.

Jon has denied having an affair since allegations of his infidelity were first reported by Us Weekly March 18. Since then, multiple photos have emerged of Gosselin and 23-year-old schoolteacher Deanna Hummel, including shots of the duo allegedly vacationing in Utah together.

When rumors swirled over Kate's reported relationship with the family's bodyguard, Steve Neild, the mother of eight denied the reputed affair to People magazine.

"The next story coming out from the animals that stalk us is about our security person and his family," she said, referring to Neild. "Already the allegations they're making about me are disgusting, unthinkable, unfathomable, and I am horrified."

The media coverage made the Gosselins, parents of 8-year-old twins and 5-year-old sextuplets, one of the country's most discussed couples even before the reality show's fifth season premiere, which netted nearly 10 million viewers, and the media coverage garnered huge ratings for the show all season.

Recently, Kate and Jon hadn't been photographed often together. Kate Gosselin was shown hitting the beach with her children during a recent vacation to North Carolina, sans husband. Jon Gosselin was spotted reportedly shopping for an apartment in New York City.

On Monday's episode, Kate Gosselin said the couple had always done the show for their children, and that "my goal is peace for the kids."

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