Now the Gosselin twins, Cara and Mady, 8, and sextuplets, Aaden, Collin, Joel, Alexis, Hannah and Leah, 5, face a very different moment in their family life: After months of marital discord, Kate and Jon filed for divorce Monday in Montgomery County, Pa.
How will the Gosselin children cope?
"Depression and anxiety are common problems for children of divorced parents," says Dr. Michelle Golland, a relationship expert based in Hollywood. Golland, who has written about the Gosselin family on momlogic.com, says children often exhibit regressive behavior as a result of parents' divorcing.
"They're coping with a lot of feelings that they don't know how to identify," Dr. Golland explains. "They act out, they in-fight with other kids. Depending on a child's behavior, they could start to have nightmares, have trouble sleeping or going to sleep. You may start to see kids wet their bed."
Open DialogueExperts agree that to help their children cope with their feelings, the Gosselins should maintain an open dialogue with the children – and put the children's needs first.
"They can try to reserve their major disagreements to times when the kids aren't around," says Dr. Lawrence Belter, a NYU psychologist and parenting expert. "And don't be critical of them if they're angry with you. Kids should be angry with their parents if they're creating a lot of problems for them."
The children can also provide a support system – in this case, a rather large one – for each other, according Dr. Thomas Parisi, a marriage and family therapist in Beverly Hills. "Kids of their age talk about things. 'Is it my fault? What did I do wrong,' " says Dr. Parisi. "If they have their siblings around, they can relate. It's a real boon on their side."
The specifics of the custody arrangement between the couple are yet to be determined. Raising such a large brood as a single parent would provide challenges to adult and child alike. But with good parenting, Dr. Belter says, the Gosselin kids can learn to cope with the changes in their family in due time.
"Kids are resilient," says Dr. Belter. "They can get past [divorce,], but not without some hurtful periods."
In a statement, the network that carries Jon & Kate Plus 8 said, "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."
With reporting by NICOLE WEISENSEE EGAN