Daddy dearest. Jon Gosselin is beginning to make strides with some of his children — but it hasn’t always been so easy.
The Jon & Kate Plus 8 alum, 41, attended WE tv’s Real Love panel in L.A. on Tuesday, December 11, where he spoke exclusively with Us Weekly about his struggle navigating fatherhood amid a tumultuous relationship with his ex-wife, Kate Gosselin.
Jon admitted that it’s been about a year since he saw all eight of his children together and told Us their last meeting was “not good,” adding, “It was just volatile and a lot going on. It was just not a good time. Like, forced custody and all that kind of stuff.”
He and the Kate Plus 8 star, 43, were married for a decade before splitting in 2009. Originally they were awarded shared physical custody of their children, with Kate granted full legal custody of their now 14-year-old sextuplets Collin, Hannah, Leah, Alexis, Joel and Aaden and now 18-year-old twins Cara and Mady. But things changed this year when Hannah began living with her dad in February and Jon was awarded sole custody of Collin on December 4. “She wanted her brother to come home,” he said of Hannah’s relationship with Collin, who has been in a residential program for kids with behavioral problems and is due to leave soon.
Despite the time that has passed, the separation within the family has been tough on the kids — and Jon admitted that some of them continue to keep their distance from him. “[Leah, Alexis, Joel and Aaden] aren’t talking to me, but they’re talking to Hannah. I don’t get involved now with what the kids … it’s what the kids want to do. If they don’t want to talk to me, that’s fine, as long as they keep up with their sibling connections,” he said at the event, held at the Paley Media Center. “Eventually, if they come around and they want to talk to me, that’s cool.”
Asked if he has a relationship with his twins, who are headed to college, Jon responded, “I don’t know. I hope so. You never know.”
Jon isn’t giving up hope of mending fences and makes it clear that he is just a phone call away when it comes to all of his children. “[In a perfect world] I’d have just like, a normal relationship with my children, meaning, just communication. It wouldn’t have to be all lovey-dovey. Just like, ‘How you guys doing? Where are you going to college?’ Maybe call me for advice. Like, hey, I’m thinking about going to this school, college, whatever. With Madelyn and Cara, because when I think back, like, I was part of their life a little, and then all of a sudden there was nothing, you know what I mean? And just with the other four, just like, ‘Hey, you guys wanna go bowling or something?’ So we can spend time all together,” he tells Us, before adding, “Just to start off small.
With reporting by Taylor Ferber
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