Talking To Your Child About What Happened…
Whether you were with your child’s mother/father for long enough for the kid to remember, or if it was something your kid never experienced, the day will always come where they want to know what happened between the two of you. Let’s face it, more often than not, the subject leaves a bad taste in the mouth of the one who was left, disrespected, found the other in bed with someone else, etc. Unfortunately, it’s hard to get over the issues due to the fact that you are never truly free of that person and are constantly reminded of them in the eyes, nose, or voice of the little person you both created. When the time comes keep these pieces of advice in mind, as they will help to ensure that what happened does nothing to change the view of you in your child’s eyes.
Use The Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Policy
As badly as you may want to clear your name from any wrongdoing that resulted in your little one only seeing the other parent on a limited basis, you should wait until they ask you outright for an explanation. This will ensure that they are both interested in what you have to say and are old enough to understand the answer. The question may be kicked around in their head for years, but them actually voicing it shows their maturity level has entered the realm of having a serious conversation with you as the subject, not the other way around.
Stick Only To Facts
When explaining what happened, use only facts that cannot be argued. Instead of saying “she broke my heart when she ran off with your step dad”, say “she did not want to continue the relationship with me”. Instead of saying “he did not know how to be a good husband and father”, say “we were young and he wasn’t ready for the type of relationship that we were having”. Kids are a lot smarter than we give them credit for and they will see right through your bitter rendition of how you were done so wrong.
Leave Your Emotions out of it!
This is probably the hardest thing to do if the breakup was not what you wanted, but you must not allow your emotions to come through. Being emotional in the conversation will let the child know that you are hurt, and as your child, they want to protect you so this puts them smack dab in the middle of your issues. You definitely don’t want to give them a reason to go back to the other parent to fight your battle of how you were done wrong. While it’s okay to convey that are not happy about the break up, it’s not okay to badmouth the other parent and make them out to be the bad guy. When they go back to get the other side of the story, it will only strain what’s left of the relationship you have with the other parent and will start problems between you and your child once they hear that other side.
Once you have this conversation with the kid, give them time to digest what you tell them and leave the door open for them to ask more questions. More than likely they carried around the burden of taking the other parent leaving personally – you are the adult in this situation and your job is to protect your child by easing their mind and letting them put their confusion to rest. Make it clear that the issue had nothing to do with them and reiterate that some relationships just do not work. It’s a great lesson in life for them to learn at an early age. Remember you are the role model for them and if they see (or saw) your break up going badly, or even heard that it did, it becomes their blueprint for relationships to come.See some words or phrases that you don't understand? Check out The Dragon's Lexicon.