Ava Sambora, 16, is a fortunate kid not because she got her mom Heather Lochlear's good looks or because her parents held her birthday party at the Four Seasons Hotel but because her parents have managed to give her the daily gift of remaining friends after their divorce.
People like me, who grew up in the middle of an ugly divorce where reconciliation was made impossible by one parent being a violent alcoholic, missed out on one of the most vital experiences of childhood, “family time.”
So I sit in awe of parents like Lochlear and her ex, Richie Sambora, who ended their 13-year marriage in 2007, for their ability to be friends and give their daughter that “family time” experience.
This isn’t just something to be done by the well-heeled, beautiful, and famous people.
My friends, Richard and Cheryl, divorced, have two kids and have remained a family where it counts, in the preservation of “family time.”
They have managed to integrate new relationships and kids into the mix as seamlessly as a master weaver makes a tapestry.
I met them when our sons became best friends 10 years ago and honestly looked at them like a pair of rare birds. I studied them from afar.
Each of them is my friend. Richard is a filmmaker who plays Dungeons and Dragons with my sons. Cheryl is a nurse, but also a talented painter with whom I can sit and talk over a glass of wine.
I have never asked why they split, but from what I pieced together it was sad and heart-breaking as any divorce has ever been.
While I know there were wrongs, slights, and hurts that caused their split, there is no “side” to take because they never, ever say an unkind word about the other whether the kids are around or not.
It is totally out of my personal experience or logic system to see them interact because I grew up in a more typical post-apocalyptic divorce environment.
So the relationship I have observed between Richard and Cheryl has helped me learn about parenting and relationships.
Somehow these two remarkable people see past it all to where their kids are standing and they just put their big parent panties on and got the heck over the anger, hurt and disappointment that comes with divorce.
They did it without being wealthy or famous and that’s why I can salute Lochlear and Sambora, because I know their success was not made of those things as some might believe.
Just look at Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes or any other Hollywood break-up to confirm that last statement.
We are always telling our kids to get over their angers and frustrations with friends and even with us.
However, when it comes to an ex-spouse it’s more “Do as I say, not as I do.”
US Weekly reported that Ava posed for pictures with her mom, the former "Melrose Place" star, and her rocker dad at the celebration and all three appeared in "great spirits."
The Bon Jovi guitarist told Access Hollywood last year he and his ex-wife are still a family in the most important sense, family time.
"We're very good. It's actually even beyond for [our daughter's] sake," Richie told Access Hollywood last year. "Heather and I really respect each other, and we've become better friends, I think, now that we're not married."
What Lochlear and Sambora and my friends right here in Norfolk, Va, all prove on a daily bases is that being “one of the beautiful people” isn’t about how you look but how you look at each other after the divorce.