Growing up in the shadow of a superstar parent is never easy – but for Britney Spears’ two sons the darkness casts a little further than most.
Their father Kevin Federline has tried to carve out a normal life for the teenage boys amid the backdrop of a family tearing itself apart with lawsuits and bitter words on social media.
And now, breaking his decade-long silence, the father of Preston, 16, and Jayden, 15, reveals that they have not seen Britney for months.
Kevin, 44, said: “The boys have decided that they are not seeing her right now.
“It’s been a few months since they’ve seen her. They made the decision not to go to the wedding.
“It’s been tough. It’s the most challenging thing that I think I’ve ever had to do in my life.”
In a wide-ranging interview, Britney’s ex-husband also reveals that he tells the boys that their mum’s provocative Instagram posts are her way of “expressing herself”.
He shares his belief that Britney’s controversial conservatorship “saved” her — but went on for too long.
He reveals how he got a restraining order against Britney’s conservator dad — but is ready to build bridges with him. And he claims he discovered his marriage to the singer was over in a live radio interview.
After leaving the shackles of her conservatorship in November 2021, Britney embarked on a series of huge life changes.
The 2008 legal ruling meant that many aspects of her finances and personal life were under the control of her father Jamie, 70.
In June, Britney, 40, married her partner Sam Asghari, 28, and bought a sprawling $17 million mansion a stone’s throw from the Federline family home in Los Angeles.
Her glitzy wedding to the model and personal trainer was attended by celebrities including Madonna and Paris Hilton — but the majority of the Spears clan did not receive an invite.
Preston and Jayden were on the guest list but decided not to go after they halted contact with Britney several months ago.
Kevin said: “They were happy for her but as they’re not seeing her right now, they made the decision not to go to her wedding.”
The decision to halt contact was made by the boys after they became increasingly uncomfortable with what they were witnessing during their visits, but Kevin will not elaborate.
Their own home is a haven, filled with love.
The talented boys, who are musical like both their parents, compose songs — Jayden can spend up to three hours a day playing the piano.
Kevin wants to make sure they can “talk to me about anything” — including difficult topics such as their mother’s 13-year conservatorship and even discussions about her racy and sometimes naked Instagram posts.
Dad-of-six Kevin, who lives with his wife Victoria, 39, their two children, his boys by Britney and his two eldest from a previous marriage, says he has “apologised” to Preston and Jayden over the stream of online pictures posted by their mother.
In a series of interviews, parts of which will be aired on the UK’s ITV News this week, he tells me: “I try to explain to them, ‘Look, maybe that’s just another way she tries to express herself’.
“But that doesn’t take away from the fact of what it does to them. It’s tough.”
In recent years the boys have also grown curious about their mother’s conservatorship.
When they were younger, Kevin explained to them: “Your mum needed help.”
But now they have more in-depth discussions about why the legal arrangement came into place.
Kevin believes that the 2008 order — granted by a court when a person is deemed unable to manage their own affairs — “100 per cent” saved Britney at the beginning.
At the time of the ruling, Kevin had sole custody of their sons, but as things began to improve the parents became close to sharing them 50-50.
Kevin credits Jamie Spears for working with him to create an environment which meant the boys could see their mother regularly.
Now Kevin ponders whether Jamie “overstayed” his control over his daughter’s life and has concerns about whether his ex-wife’s privacy was violated.
And while he has a lot of empathy for Jamie, the pair have had their own issues.
In November 2019 Kevin took out a restraining order against his former father-in-law following claims of an altercation with one of his sons.
But he would still “welcome” their grandfather back into the boys’ lives.
“People make mistakes,” he says. “I feel like he’s been put through the wringer.”
For Jamie, it seems as if there is more turmoil to come.
Britney’s legal team hopes to grill him under oath over claims of mismanagement of her conservatorship, with the possibility of further legal action.
And the singer has also hit out at several family members on social media in recent weeks, including her mum Lynne, 67, sister Jamie Lynne, 31, and brother Bryan, 45.
But despite the harsh words and legal cases, Kevin insists there is a lot of love in the family and he keeps the door open for the boys to see all their relatives.
He says: “They all care so much about each other. Normal families do this, but it’s not blasted all over social media and television.”
Kevin has not spoken to Britney in several years, but even now he recalls their “whirlwind” romance fondly.
It was love at first sight when they were introduced in 2004 by a mutual friend in Hollywood nightclub Joseph’s Cafe.
There was an “immediate” connection and six months later the pair tied the knot in Los Angeles.
Kevin was an established dancer and an up-and-coming musician when Britney, riding high on the success of her fourth album, took time out to have their two children.
The contrast in their lives and the media glare saw their relationship unravel.
Kevin was promoting his latest single in Canada in 2006 when he was “blindsided” live on air by the radio host interviewing him, who told him that Britney had filed for divorce.
His thoughts immediately went to his two boys back home.
“She wanted full custody,” Kevin says. “I knew I had to fight. The kids were everything.”
In Chicago he met lawyer Mark Vincent Kaplan, who told him: “I’m going to get you custody because I believe you and I believe in you.”
After a bitter divorce and legal battle over the children, the pair were initially awarded joint custody.
But it was the start of a particularly rocky period for Britney.
And after her very public breakdown in 2007, a judge awarded full custody to Kevin.
He recalls a night around this time when a shaven-headed Britney, trailed by dozens of paparazzi, attempted to confront him at home.
He noticed the camera flashes first, and then the pop star began buzzing his gate intercom to try to gain entry to the property.
As Kevin’s mother rushed the kids upstairs, he and a member of his security team stapled bedsheets to the windows to try to keep their privacy from the snappers outside.
His primary concern was for the kids — he didn’t want them to see their mum acting that way.
Seeing later Press coverage of her downward spiral, Kevin was “mortified” for the woman he once loved.
Now his sole focus is on his children — and he hopes the boys will eventually be able to have a good relationship with their mother.
But Kevin is solemn when he admits: “This whole thing has been hard to watch, harder to live through, harder to watch my boys go through than anything else.”
This story originally appeared on The Sun and is republished here with permission.