Truth is a relative term. When it comes to children, there’s my truth, your truth, and then there’s “age appropriate information.” Children don’t have the emotional road time to understand the complexity of adult relationships or adult decision-making. Asking children to ferret through our adult experience, to try and understand the facts or my truth, is asking them to gulp an ocean wave. There’s no way to grasp understanding or an honest balanced view without choking.
When we openly criticize or blame a parent for the changes in the family, children are left to figure out how to love both parents in the face of conflicting information: “I love you, but my mom/dad says you’re a bad person.”
Someone must be wrong. And, kids are left to figure things out on their own — often alone. While parents continue to battle, comment, yell, and accuse. Small issues become monumental; little infractions become federal cases. Grains of truth about some aspect of one parent become a mountain of evidence of their failure/inadequacy/or deceitfulness – children are left in a landslide of emotion and negativity volleyed back and forth between parents that they have no way to sort through and make sense of.
Parents get lost in escalating adult conflict. Kids suffer.
Remember that children have growing and developing hearts that include a special place for each of their parents. Parents aren’t perfect, but they’re important. For your children’s sake, remember that they love that person you’re upset with, talking about, wanting to hurt … because you’re hurting. Protect their hearts and provide them with guidance they can use to grow strong with:
“Your mom and I/your dad and I did the best we could, but we couldn’t figure out how to love each other like a husband and wife needs to love each other to stay married; that’s why we’re getting a divorce.”
That’s all kids need to know for now. They have lots of years in front of them to learn about love, relationship, family, and adult experiences. For now, protect their growing hearts.