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Why Demi Moore’s Relationship With Ashton Kutcher Destroyed Her Bond With Her Daughters

Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore’s May-December romance was one for the books.

Age disparity in a relationship is nothing new, of course, yet it’s not every day that we see a younger man coupling up with a significantly older woman. Demi and Ashton normalized, if not pioneered, the way such courtships are portrayed in the media. They were unabashed in their love and devotion towards one another, casually epitomizing the often problematic phrase ‘age is just a number.’

They were a polarizing pair — some rooted for the couple, knowing that they were shattering age-old myths about attraction and commitment, whereas others expressed disapproval, feeling dubious whether their marriage would last. The latter group turned out to be right on the money; Demi and Ashton filed for divorce on December 21, 2012, following a year of separation. 

It’s always painful when a marriage dissolves, but the circumstances under which Demi and Ashton split up were outright devastating for themselves and their families. The damage inflicted on Demi’s daughters was particularly substantial, and it took a while before both Demi and Ashton were able to rebuild goodwill with them. 

Ashton Kutcher is “never going to stop loving” his ex-stepdaughters

Demi’s daughters Rumer, Scout, and Tallulah were 15, 12, and 9, respectively, when Ashton entered their lives as their mom’s much-younger boyfriend. Despite being in their preadolescent years, they managed to form a lovely attachment to Ashton from the get-go. He’d been with their mother for nearly eight years, so naturally, he played quite a significant role in raising her daughters and getting them through their grueling teenage years. 

However, as the marriage deteriorated over the years and eventually crumbled altogether, Ashton had to learn how to navigate a difficult territory with his ex-stepdaughters. Just because you’re not on the best terms with your former spouse doesn’t mean that you can forget about all the connections you’ve created through that marriage. 

On Marc Maron’s WTF podcast, Ashton reaffirmed his love for Rumer, Scout, and Tallulah, adding that they will always occupy a special place in his heart. Though he doesn’t socialize with Demi anymore, he makes a “really conscious effort to stay in touch with the girls.” 

At the end of the day, he “raised” his stepdaughters alongside his wife and her ex-husband Bruce Willis. It’s an intricate dynamic that doesn’t fade overnight, so Ashton somewhat cherishes the paternal presence he brings to the table. 

I love them. And I’m never going to stop loving them, right? And respecting them and honoring them and rooting for them to be successful in whatever they’re pursuing. 

Ashton Kutcher on WTF with Marc Maron

Ashton didn’t just make these assertions to boost his reputation — there are multiple examples proving his closeness with Demi’s daughters. He and his oldest stepdaughter Rumer have been spotted getting dinner together more than a few times. He and his wife Mila Kunis also signed over their LA mansion to Rumer for $572,500 in September 2018. Rumer even went on The Howard Stern Show and spoke highly of Ashton and his parenting abilities. “It was definitely weird for a minute, but, you know, I have to commend him and he was a really great stepfather,” she said. 

Demi’s alcoholism and “addiction to Ashton” left her daughters feeling neglected

While Ashton didn’t have a challenge in maintaining a cordial bond with his stepdaughters post-divorce, Demi herself struggled to retain a rapport with them. As Demi shared in her memoir Inside Out, she spiraled into alcoholism and drug addiction shortly after her divorce from Ashton. Some of her choices and behaviors at the time had been so appalling that her daughters couldn’t find it in themselves to remain by her side and watch her go through the self-destructive patterns. The relationship suffered, and Demi shortly became estranged from her daughters. 

Demi, Rumer, and Tallulah went on Red Table Talk and elaborated on the ordeal, sharing that it was incomparably harrowing to see their mom “not be in control around a man.” As Demi plunged deeper into her alcoholism, the girls realized that it was becoming impossible to tend to their own mental wellbeing. A 2012 incident in which Demi was rushed to the hospital after absorbing nitrous oxide and “a puff of synthetic pot” only exacerbated the matter. 

The only thought that recurred in Rumer’s head: “Who is this person? I don’t know who this is.” 

Tallulah opened up about living in the same house as Demi and Ashton when their marriage was coming undone. She’d only been a teenager at the time and didn’t have the bandwidth to cope with such an emotionally draining crisis. Ultimately, she felt a little jealous and “forgotten” that the lion’s share of her mother’s attention was directed at her cheating husband, not at her children. 

Rumer felt the same when Demi became obsessed with conceiving a baby with Ashton after experiencing a miscarriage early on in their marriage. The need to welcome a child with Ashton became such an urgent priority for Demi that she let Rumer feel neglected and like she wasn’t “enough.” The continual tension within the family only hastened Rumer’s decision to move out of Demi and Ashton’s home. 

The addiction and the co-dependency, my addiction to Ashton, that was probably almost more devastating because it took me seriously away emotionally (from the girls) […]  I was in so much pain, physically as well as emotionally, I could barely function.

Demi Moore on Red Table Talk

Her daughters didn’t speak to her for nearly three years. It had been a horrifying period in her life; she felt “so lost” and asked herself every day whether there was anything worth living for. Her career had been slow at the time, so Demi had no choice but to discover what it was like living with yourself, for yourself. Eventually, Demi cleaned up her act, focused on her recovery, and put herself in a better position to be a nurturer to her young women. 

Rumer had been the first one to reach out to Demi. The other two came around one by one, and the family undertook considerable measures to heal and grow in unity. Demi eventually mended fences with her daughters and even quarantined with them at her ex-husband Bruce Willis’ ranch. 

A better day is always on the horizon 

Though Demi’s motherhood journey has been fraught with shame, loss, and regret, it doesn’t take away from her remarkable evolution. Like any other human being, she has her weaknesses and her strengths. Her so-called weaknesses may have been more apparent in the wake of her third divorce, but the strength is what allowed her to get through her darkest moment and patch up her relationships one by one. 

Demi’s patient and resilience are something we can all use to emulate in our own lives. There’ll be times when you feel like there’s no end to the spiral, that you’ll keep tumbling through the endless void of pain for the rest of your life. In those helpless moments, we have to do whatever we can to remind ourselves that a better day is always on the horizon. It will come no matter what, and it’ll bring with it a fresh perspective, a second chance, an opportunity for you to rectify your errors. It’s all up to you whether or not you want to seize this “do-over” by its horns. 

Shaoni Das

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Shaoni Das