Angelina Jolie Says Her Children 'Have Been Through a Lot'

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Angelina Jolie is opening up about the challenges she's faced in her life.

In a new interview with Harper's Bazaar, the 44-year-old actress speaks about her battles throughout the years, some of which have also befallen her and ex Brad Pitt's six children -- Maddox, 18, Pax, 15, Zahara, 14, Shilo, 13, and 11-year-old twins Knox and Vivienne.

"The part of us that is free, wild, open, curious can get shut down by life. By pain or by harm," she says. "My children know my true self, and they have helped me to find it again and to embrace it. They have been through a lot. I learn from their strength. As parents, we encourage our kids to embrace all that they are, and all that they know in their hearts to be right, and they look back at us and want the same for us."

Angelina Jolie
Sølve Sundsbø for Harper's Bazaar

Jolie's focus on teaching her children to be fully themselves also includes encouraging them to learn from others, both near and far.

"I am conscious every day that I have... the ability to encourage my children to explore the world, including the world of ideas and expression, without there being limits to what they are allowed to study or know or imagine themselves doing in the future," she says. "... I want the children to grow up in the world -- not just learning about it but living it and having friends around the world."

Angelina Jolie
Sølve Sundsbø for Harper's Bazaar

She's put that desire into action by building a home in the Cambodian jungle -- a country where she recently became a citizen -- and planning to break ground on another house in Africa next year. All of that, she says, is in a pursuit of her goal to live overseas once her children are grown.

"I would love to live abroad and will do so as soon as my children are 18. Right now I’m having to base where their father chooses to live," she says of Pitt.

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“Labeling people and putting them into boxes isn’t freedom. Difference and diversity are what I value most—in my family and in others. I don’t want to live in a world where everyone is the same, and I imagine that’s true for everyone reading this. I want to meet people I’ve never met before and learn things I don’t know. The challenge today is to embrace our differences. And not to be fooled by efforts to divide us or make us fear others. We’re seeing a retreat of values worldwide.” #AngelinaJolie opens up in our December 2019/January 2020 issue. Tap the link in our bio to read now. Photography by @solvesundsbostudio Styling by @patrickmackieinsta Hair by #malcomedwards Makeup by @thevalgarland Manicure by @chisatochee

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In the meantime, Jolie is focusing on continuing to discover her true self following a difficult few years. In 2013, Jolie underwent a preventive double mastectomy, and in 2015, she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed as a preventative measure against cancer after she took a blood test that revealed she had an estimated 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer.

The next year, in September 2016, Jolie filed for divorce from Pitt.

"My body has been through a lot over the past decade, particularly the past four years, and I have both the visible and invisible scars to show for it," she says. "The invisible ones are harder to wrestle with. Life takes many turns. Sometimes you get hurt, you see those you love in pain, and you can’t be as free and open as your spirit desires. It’s not new or old, but I do feel the blood returning to my body."

"... Knowing our true self is a very important question for all of us. Especially a child," she adds. "I think kids need to be able to say, 'Here’s who I am, and what I believe.' We can’t prevent them from experiencing pain, heartache, physical pain, and loss. But we can teach them to live better through it."

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