Shania Twain on Breaking Down in Front of Son

06/12/2009 at 04:00 PM ET
Todd G/John K/Splash News Online

A fiercely private Shania Twain has offered up a rare glimpse of her anguish in the wake of her separation from husband Robert John ‘Mutt’ Lange, and how the demise of their marriage has impacted their son. In an open letter to her fans posted Friday on her official website, the 43-year-old songstress reveals that 7 ½-year-old Eja D’Angelo has only seen his mom cry once, as Shania was listening to “some sad music” at her computer. “Eja walked up behind me and asked me why I was crying,” Shania recalled. “He wasn’t sad at first — just totally surprised to see his mom crying … and didn’t know what to make of it.” Shania had previously gone to great lengths to cry only when she was alone, but writes that “this one time was just too hard for me to control and I broke down.”

“I was quick on my feet to answer him though and told Eja that music was very powerful and can make people quite emotional. It can make you want to dance, feel angry, happy or sad and that this song was sad and made me cry. He accepted this, hugged me and went back to what he was doing. Phew, that was tough!”

Shania goes on to apologize to her fans for taking such an extended hiatus from music, noting that regardless of her marital state, she still has Eja to tend to. “As you know, I am a mom and all my energy goes to making sure my little man is healthy and happy in every way,” she writes. “This is a full time job, as any parent understands, but especially difficult when you are battling your own personal crisis at the same time while trying to spare your child of being affected by your own suffering.”

At the same time — from the sound of things — the day-to-day routine Eja offers has been cathartic. “Each morning I put my son on the school bus, feed our two dogs Sony and Dolly, drink my orange juice and sit down at the computer to write,” she writes. There have been a few adventures squeezed in here and there, however, as Shania tries to embrace a “different and more optimistic attitude” toward life. She adds,

“I’ve jumped out of an airplane at 10,000 feet, I’m riding Spanish and Arabian horses, traveling to exotic places, I’ve been deep sea diving for the first time! I pull the odd all-nighter, read more books, listen to Eja’s favourite music with him, LOUD [ironically his favourite band is ACDC] and basically I’m enjoying life.”

Shania and Mutt announced their separation in May 2008, after 14 years of marriage.


— Missy

FILED UNDER: News , Parenting

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Angi on

She sounds like she is really hang in there and healing. You know what they say…living well is the best revenge.

Janna on

Why would anyone NEVER cry in front of their child? Why be ashamed of your emotions? Shouldn’t children know that adults (especially their parents) go through a range of emotions, just like they do.

There’s nothing wrong with crying occasionally.

I’m just saying. 🙂

martina on

Janna, I think her divorce was so painful (and shocking) that she needed to maintain a sense of control over her emotions. Not crying in front of her son was probably part of it. Also, not making a bad situation worse by exposing her little boy to additional emotional trauma of seeing his mommy break down.

K on

Young children know that when they are crying they sometimes feel out of control, and it’s a scary thought when you’re a kid that your mommy or daddy might feel that way. So a lot of parents don’t like crying in front of their children until they are older.

M on

i think it is an awful–and awfully misguided–situation when parents, especially mothers (forgive me if that is sexist) refuse to allow their children to see them cry. children rely on their parents for emotional growth and lessons in emotion and pathos.

Natasha on

I love Shania and she sounds like a very loving mother. I think that during the divorce Eja must’ve gone through a lot with (I assume) his Dad moving out. She was just staying strong for him 🙂

Jade on

Wow…some very strong comments here!

I would have done the same thing Shania did. Her divorce was painful and the worst break-up humanly possible. She probably wasn’t too sure what she was feeling at the moment.It’s not very healthy to confuse your 7 years old child at that moment.

Her son will understand what he has to when the time comes. The world is full of dirt and no one is spared of that. As parents one can only hope to keep the children happy in their childhood as long as possible.

Me on

I agree, that there are times when a child should see a parent cry. That’s part of teaching them how to handle emotion.
A divorce might not be the best time, though. Think about it… the child’s whole world is already turned upside down. And if mommy’s crying, does that make daddy the bad guy? Maybe daddy is, but your ex is still your child’s parent. You have to stay strong to keep their little world from completely crumpling.

Amber on

Music makes you laugh, dance, cry…I love that.

Liz on

Totally agree with Me’s post–Crying after watching a sad movie or when someone or your pet dies seems healthy. But I think that parents should hold it together during a divorce/separation. When my parents got divorced when I was a kid, I’m glad that both my mom and dad didn’t break down in front of me. The situation was scary enough without me watching my mom fall apart in front of me.

aroundthewaygirl on

I see where Shania is coming from. This woman had to stay strong after her parents were killed because she had to raise her siblings. She very much knows when it’s appropriate to cry in front of someone more vulnerable than herself and when it’s time to keep it together for the sake of the people depending on you because the situation demands it. Keep your head up, Shania. Mutt had a good woman in you an he didn’t appreciate it.

shalay on

I also agree with Me. I think it’s perfectly acceptable for parents to cry when watching a sad movie, when they lose a pet or family member, etc. But a divorce is very different because that is a time when the child needs to be comforted by the parents.

My parents went through a divorce when I was 9. I saw both of them, at separate times, break down in front of me. They were only human. But being a child, it was near traumatizing. Your first instinct when someone is crying, is to try to comfort them and make the pain go away. But what if that person is the parent, the person who helps YOU feel better? It’s too much for a young child to have to deal with. Older children who are more capable of communicating and understanding are better equipped to handle their parents’ emotions.

It sounds like Shania is a great mother.

martina on

It saddens me that people could be so harshly judgmental of a woman who’s doing the best she can under very trying circumstances.

I also agree with Me, Liz and other posters. I was 6 when my parents divorced. Seeing my father upset over it was traumatizing, and had a very negative effect on my relationship with my mother.

Of course there is nothing wrong with crying. But crying because your husband cheats on you with your best friend?? How do you explain that to the child? What lessons can you teach? What positive effect could possibly be accomplished???

tanya on

I don`t think there`s any harm in crying in front of your own child when you`re going through something like that. I would never cry in front of other peoples children, but thats because I would feel ashamed of myself if I did,not because it would hurt the child in any way to see me cry. Yes,the child could feel a little scared and embarrased or sad if that happened,but he or she would learn that grown ups can also break down in tears sometimes and that it`s OK. Like Shanias son Eja he just asked his mom whats wrong and gave his mom a hug when she told him. He was not traumatized by it. So I think that as long as you give your kid an explanation why you are crying, the child will be OK

babyboopie on

When my ex boyfriend left me and my 18 month old son, I was absolutely devastated. My world had just fallen apart and I was on my own in paris, a city that was strange to me at the time! I used to cry so much and my son used to say ” no maman, no cry!” And then my friends pointed out he needed me to be strong and so I had to pull myself together and try and make life as stable as I could for my boy. I’m so happy right now with my new fiance, son and our new baby on the way! I hope shania finds that happiness one day!

Carla on

My brother worked security for one of her concerts and the rule was they were NOT allowed to look her in the eyes (she was still married at the time) The only thing I have been able to come up with on that is the eyes are the windows of a persons soul and she must not of been a happy person at the time.

Daisy on

I would go down the same route as Shania here. A divorce is a time when a child needs to be reassured. It can be very distressing for a young child to see their parent upset, even more-so if at the same time they have to cope with the parents separation. Shania sounds like she is doing as well as can be expected, I’m sure she and Eja will be fine.

Amy on

I can understand trying to look strong through a divorce, but what about the years before the marriage fell apart? She never let him see her cry then, even for mild, understandable things? I don’t know how she did it, but I certainly couldn’t pull that off–nor would I want to.

Alicia on

See I feel that letting her son see this situation hurts her can only do good. A child look to his parents for cues & knowing that yes this situation makes mom sad so its okay to make me sad could only do good.
I grew up in a household where my parents stuck their heads in sand so to speak & all it did was make me bottle my pain up & try to eat it away. It wasn’t until I learned that sadness & pain were valid emotions to have that I broke free.

mikayla on

she has to be strong for her child, she is putting his feelings first before hers,she wants to make sure that he doesnt see her in pain because of the divorce im sure he is effected as well and dealing with his own pain she doesnt want to put anymore stress on him then he is already under,she is being a good mama and being strong for her son thats what i or any mother would do. if he sees her crying he may resent his dad and he may feel really bad that she is breaking, poor child lost his family just like shania did. if he sees his mama crying it will hurt him she was trying to be strong for her child and put his feelings first and making sure he is okay. i love shania i think she is a strong woman and i know she will get thru this she has a heart of gold and she deserves better then mutt lange, he’s the 2 timing loser and he’s the one that lost out on a great woman…i cant wait for shania to come back and say what she needs to say it will be great and i know all of her fans are anticipating her return…

caeliana on

i dont think any of us are in a position to judge shania’s situation since we dont live in her household. if she feels the need to be strong for her son then thats what she needs to do, children come first and making sure they are coping matters most before anything. shania is a smart woman and were no one to judge her…especially how to raise her son. people should respect her decisions as a mother.

A on

Letting you child see you ‘cry’ and letting them see you ‘break down’ or ‘lose it’ are two completely different things. A child needs to see their parent is capable of feeling and expressing all emotions – in a controlled, calm manner. Explaining to your child (honestly) why you’re shedding a few tears is a healthy experience for parent and child, and lets the child know expressing emotion is a natural, and acceptable function of life.

Watching a parent break down or lose it, however, can be a scary experience, and can have a lasting, negative impact on the child.

Also, a 7 year old child will most likely better understand circumstances, than say a 4 year old. It is up to the parents, and only the parents to decide what how much emotion their child sees and how the inevitable questions will be answered.

Heather on

About the time my parents divorced years (and years) ago, one of my spelling words was “father”. I had to write a sentence with that word and couldn’t think of a thing to write. Finally, my mother suggested, “My mother and father are divorced.” I suppose she rigged it with the teach that I was called to read that sentence. It was cathartic, and brought many other kids forward at a time when divorce wasn’t the norm. Shania, let him see you cry. He probably needs to also.