Inside Nicole Kidman's Strained Relationship With Her Older Children

Nicole Kidman is an Oscar-winning actor, a passionate philanthropist who was named a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) in 2006, and a loving mom of four. She adopted her eldest children, Isabella Jane and Connor, with then-husband Tom Cruise in 1992 and 1995, respectively. However, when their volatile relationship ended in divorce in 2001, the "Big Little Lies" star didn't just lose her husband, she also seemed to be losing her children. 

Kidman's iconic divorce celebration photo probably didn't help, but she's adamant that she holds no ill will towards her ex. "I don't want to take away from 11 years with that man that were really important," she told Elle in 2008 (via People). "Really, for our kids — they were amidst a lot of love." Indeed, she told the Independent back in 1998 that she loves motherhood. "When I held Bella in my arms, that was everything," she gushed. "I look into those eyes and that crazy love happens — it's crazy love because you'll do anything when you have a child."

And yet, Isabella and Connor appeared to fully side with their father following their parents' split. However, just like she didn't give up on love – Kidman is now a devoted wife to Keith Urban and mom to two more kids — she also refused to let her kids go. Here's a look inside Nicole Kidman's strained relationship with her eldest children.

Scientology drove a wedge between Nicole Kidman and her older kids

Scientology is believed to be one of the main reasons behind Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman's divorce. It appears that the religion also drove a huge wedge between Kidman and her older children. When Leah Remini published her 2015 memoir, "Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology," she left no stone unturned and even shared intimate details about Isabella and Connor Cruise's alleged relationship with their mom. 

According to Us Weekly, Remini had always wondered about the strained relationship but was never able to ask the kids about it because, although she saw them frequently, they were never left alone. Then, one day, the opportunity she had been waiting for presented itself. Remini was alone with her husband, Isabella, and Connor and she asked if they saw their mom often. Isabella reportedly slammed, "Not if I have a choice." She then allegedly called Kidman "a f***ing SP" i.e. a Suppressive Person, which Scientology's official website describes as someone who "seeks to upset, continuously undermine, spread bad news about and denigrate betterment activities and groups," such as the faith itself. As for Connor, Remini says he didn't chime in. "There was something human about his silence and the sadness I felt in it," she wrote.

Meanwhile, Kidman told Australia's Who magazine in 2018 that she takes no issue with her kids' religion. "They are able to make their own decisions," she said. "They have made choices to be Scientologists and as a mother, it's my job to love them."

Isabella and Connor Cruise stopped referring to her as their mom

Following their parents' very public divorce in 2001, both Isabella Jane and Connor Cruise chose to continue living with dad Tom Cruise. Speaking with Hello! (via Daily Mail) in 2010, Nicole Kidman said they made the decision themselves and shared that, although it hurt, she wasn't going to challenge it. "I'd love them to live with us, but what can you do?" she mused. Similarly, she told People in 2007, "When children are teenagers, they have a say in where they want to be."

Making the situation more painful was the fact that when Cruise started a new family with Katie Holmes, Isabella and Connor formed an instant connection with their stepmom. In a 2007 interview with Parade (via People), Holmes shared just how close she had gotten to the kids after just two years in their lives. "His first two children are incredible, really smart and kind," she gushed, revealing, "They call me 'Mom.'" As Kidman later told GMTV, per Daily Mail, it's a title she herself had lost. "My kids don't call me mommy, they don't even call me mom," she admitted. "They call me Nicole, which I hate and tell them off for it."

Isabella Cruise didn't invite her mom to her wedding

In September 2015, Isabella Cruise married Max Parker in a secret ceremony in London, England after less than a year of dating. The 22-year-old said "I do" to the British I.T. consultant at the five-star Dorchester Hotel in front of a handful of friends. Visibly missing from the celebration was Nicole Kidman, but a source told People she wished her daughter nothing but the best. "She, like all mothers, wants her child to be happy, and it surely seems Bella is very happy," the insider said.

To be fair, brother Connor Cruise was also reportedly absent, as was dad Tom Cruise, although he is believed to have paid for the whole affair. However, according to one insider who spoke with Page Six, Tom actually was in attendance. "It was all arranged so he would be there, which he was," they said. What's more, they claimed that not only was Kidman not invited, but she didn't even know the nuptials were happening. If that was really the case, the secrecy was made all the more hurtful by the fact that Kidman was actually in London on the day of the wedding, preparing for a new acting role. As for Isabella, she has denied rumors that she keeps her parents at bay. "Of course we talk, they're my parents," she slammed to Australia's New Idea.

Connor Cruise is incredibly close with his dad

Connor Cruise appears to be totally in sync with dad Tom Cruise. After trying his hand at DJing, he decided to focus on deep-sea fishing and actually works as a deep-sea fishing deckhand for 2 Shea Charters in Clearwater, Florida. He's also been competing professionally, and in 2018, he and his fishing team came in third place in the Rotary Club of Clearwater's Kingfish Tournament. As for why he's chosen to settle in Clearwater, it's actually where Scientology's international HQ is located and dad Tom lives close by in his own condo. As one source told People, "Connor has been able to remain close with Tom because of Scientology." 

Indeed, it seems that their shared religion, as well as their physical proximity to one another, has ensured an unshakeable bond between father and son. Although Connor is not often photographed, he and Tom have been spotted enjoying the occasional hockey or basketball game together and even flying in a helicopter operated by Cruise. It's a jovial relationship that Connor certainly doesn't seem to share with his mom.

Nicole Kidman has nothing but sweet words about her eldest kids

Regardless of how strained the relationship between Nicole Kidman and her eldest children may be, the actor is committed to always being there for them. Preaching the importance of unconditional love, she told Australia's Who magazine in 2018, "That's what I believe: That no matter what your child does, the child has love and the child has to know there is available love and I'm open here." And she meant it. 

Through the years, Kidman has had nothing but sweet words to say about Isabella and Connor Cruise. "All of my children are highlights of my life," she told Who (via Yahoo!), in 2012. "They are my biggest joys." Then, speaking with Australia's The Weekly in 2014, she enthused, "They are generous, kind and hardworking, and these are traits that I love to see in my children." The proud mama even professed to Who, "I know 150 percent that I would give up my life for my children because it's what my purpose is."

It turns out that her kids are also the reason why she's never spoken publicly about her thoughts on Scientology. As she explained to The Hollywood Reporter in 2013, "I have two children who are Scientologists — Connor and Isabella — and I utterly respect their beliefs."

Isabella Cruise's clothing line holds a sweet nod to her mom

Isabella Cruise is a passionate artist who, according to her own website, "has been drawing ever since her wee hands could pick up a pen." In 2018, she decided to bring her art to a wider audience by launching her own brand called Bella Kidman Cruise. Through her webshop, Isabella sells limited edition prints, as well as totes, pins, and T-shirts emblazoned with her art. But it's the name she chose for her business that had everyone talking. Despite ongoing rumors that she and mom Nicole Kidman have a tough relationship and the fact that they hadn't been photographed together since 2006, she still decided to honor her mom by including her last name. Speaking with ET, Kidman called the launch exciting and gushed, "I think it's such a great way to express [yourself] and Bella is a beautiful drawer as well."

What's more, Isabella even changed her Instagram handle to include both of her parents' last names, and in 2020, she shared a beautiful portrait she drew which appears to be of her mom! That same year, the latest Bella Kidman Cruise collection included a drawing of a cat with the words, "Protect your mother — and she'll protect you." 

Could it be that their relationship is on the mend? Isabella herself told New Idea magazine in 2012, "I love mom. She's my mom. She's great. I see her sometimes and I speak to her" (via Daily Mail).

Is her relationship with her older children better than it seems?

If you were to believe the headlines, you'd think that Nicole Kidman's relationship with Isabella and Connor Cruise is somewhere between strained and nonexistent. However, that may not be the whole truth — at least not anymore. Following Isabella's decision to acknowledge her mom's last name so publicly in her clothing line, their relationship has reportedly taken a huge leap forward. "Bella and Nicole have really grown closer over the past few months," a source told Radar after the launch. "They're both focusing on moving forward with their relationship." 

And while she didn't attend their wedding, Kidman reportedly met up with Isabella and her new husband, Max Parker, in London. The encounter, although emotional, was full of love. "It didn't take long for [Nicole] to burst into tears, and Bella soon followed," a source told Woman's Day in 2016 (via New Zealand Herald). "Nic has been trying to build bridges with Bella since the start of the year." It seems she succeeded. In 2020, outlets noticed Isabella liking a whole slew of her mom's Instagram posts.

As for Connor, he told Australia's Woman's Day magazine in 2014, "I love my mom." Dismissing the rumors, he slammed, "I don't care what people say — I know that me and mom are solid."