Hayden Panettiere says her 7-year-old daughter was asking to call other women 'mommy' as a 'trauma response' to being separated from her

Hayden Panettiere says her 7-year-old daughter was asking to call other women ‘mommy’ as a ‘trauma response’ to being separated from her

  • Hayden Panettiere said that her daughter asking to call other women “mommy” is a “trauma reaction.”
  • Seven-year-old Kaya has lived with her father, Wladimir Klitschko, in Europe since 2018.
  • Panettiere said on “Red Table Talk” she doesn’t think her ex understands how much Kaya needs her.

On Wednesday’s episode of “Red Table Talk,” Hayden Panettiere addressed the toll that a complicated custody situation is having on her 7-year-old daughter, Kaya Klitschko.

Kaya currently lives in Europe with her father, Panettiere’s ex Wladimir Klitschko. She’s lived there since 2018 when Klitschko petitioned for full custody in Ukraine amid Panettiere’s efforts to treat her alcoholism, the “Heroes” star explained to hosts Jada Pinkett Smith and Adrienne Banfield Norris and their guest co-host Kelly Osbourne.

Panettiere said she goes to visit her daughter when she can, but Panettiere’s absence is affecting Kaya in some alarming ways.

“I also remember her dad calling me and he said, ‘Kaya’s going around and asking other women if she can call them mommy,'” she said at about the 27-minute mark of the episode. “And my breath hitched and my heart stopped. And he was laughing, he thought this was funny.”

The “Nashville” star said learning this information was “horrifying” for her. She said she didn’t think Klitschko perceived Kaya’s behavior the same way that she did. “That’s a trauma reaction, that’s… that’s a cry for help,” she added.

Panettiere said she asked to talk to Kaya “immediately” and when she brought up the topic, her daughter regressed and “went into ‘goo-goo ga-ga’ speak” and was “talking gibberish,” something Panettiere hadn’t ever heard each do before.

The actor said she tried to explain to Klitschko that she needs to be in Kaya’s life more because Kaya not seeing her mother on a regular basis is a “trauma” that is going to “rear its ugly head” when she is older. But Panettiere said she doesn’t think Klitschko understands or believes the concept, and she is worried that Kaya will eventually experience “anger” or “depression” as a result of her absence.

Panettiere said that she hasn’t gotten any “hints” that Kaya’s living situation would change soon, but she has “hope” that when Kaya gets older, her desires will be “respected” more and she’ll be able to visit her mom in the US.

Hayden Panettiere

Panettiere arrives at the 2012 ESPY Awards.

Fraser Harrison/Getty Images



Earlier in the conversation, Panettiere said that she had not fully opened up about her custody situation because it has been “very terrifying to talk about” since Klitschko and his family are so prominent in Ukraine. He’s a former professional Ukrainian boxer and his brother, Vitali Klitschko, is the current mayor of the city of Kyiv.

While talking to the “Red Table Talk” hosts, Panettiere also explained that as a European athlete without many female influences, Klitschko sometimes misunderstands the physical effects emotions can have on the body.

She said that when Kaya was a newborn and she had postpartum depression, Klitschko “really thought I was doing it to myself.”

“When he signs his emails it says, ‘if you control your mind you can control everything,'” she added.

Hayden Panettiere and Wladimir Klitschko

Panettiere with Wladimir Klitschko at a June 2013 Giorgio Armani show in Milan, Italy.

Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images



Panettiere first spoke to People reporter Aili Nahas in July about having alcoholism, an addiction to opioids, and postpartum depression at various times in her life starting at a young age.

On “Red Table Talk,” she said that she signed over “full custody” of Kaya to Klitschko in 2018 after her daughter went to Ukraine for what Panettiere initially thought would be a regular visit while she sought treatment for addiction. But she said it wasn’t “fully” her “decision” to sign over custody.

“I was going to work on myself and I was going to get better,” she explained. “And then once she was over there … it was immediately, ‘I want full custody of her,’ which was a shock to me.”

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