It’s not your fault mom and dad divorced
I have heard its common for kids to feel responsible for their parents split, but it’s never been a battle I fought, until it came up recently.
My oldest is 16. Her father and I have been separated almost 2 years and divorced 1. Recently in a hormonal meltdown, she threw out…and I know you blame me for your divorce at least dad does, he said so. Of course I said what?? No….and all the expected reply’s but they all seemed to hit the wall she built and just slide down.
Yesterday I picked her up from practice, just her and I in the car and I said, “When you and your boyfriend (let’s call him bf) broke up (temporarily) this week, was it over me?”…”No” she said (kind of questioning where I was going). “Well, I know you think I don’t like him as much as his mom likes you, do y’all ever fight about that?” “Not really” she said, “actually not ever.” “Are you sure I didn’t cause the break up?” “Maybe I should have invited him over for dinner more often?” “Would that have helped?” “Mom!! We got back together, it had nothing to do with you!!” “Honey I know I could make things easier, I really can try, I don’t want to be the reason you guys don’t make it” “For the last time mom, bf and I have never had a fight over you!! For the record though you could be nicer” “Really…you’ve never fought over me, even though I set the curfew, I make the rules, and you don’t think I’m all that nice to him?” “Yes, mom…it’s our own issues, our little everyday disagreements that have NOTHING to do with you!”
“Okay, I see.”
“But can you see, that just like I had nothing to do with you and bf’s breakup or arguments. Even though I make the rules and set the curfews and it doesn’t appear I like him, your relationship didn’t hinge on me.” “You, sweetheart had absolutely nothing to do with your dad and I getting divorced.” “You couldn’t have. With all my ultimate veto mom power, I haven’t even made one of you and bf’s arguments.” “Your dad and I had our own little everyday disagreements that had nothing to do with you.” “Your dad and I decided we, us, him and I, couldn’t work it out.” “Kids have power, not veto power mind you, but power.” “You could have insisted on sleeping in the middle of our bed every night.” “You could have interrupted him every single time he tried to talk to me.” “You could have screamed nonstop every time he called me.” “You didn’t. Even worse case toddler as a teenager scenario, we may have called a doctor, but not a lawyer.”
Ahhhh victory!! It’s over the wall!!
She got it. I could see it in her eyes, the relief. She was carrying the weight of a broken family and she had the wrong bag. The whole night was slightly different. Slightly, but still noticeable. Even when I tucked everyone in bed, it was still there, or not there. Kids get tied up in wrong thinking all the time. We know to battle for their self-esteem, their identity, their value. Constantly talking to them allows little hints of what they’re carrying to slip out. Refusing to be offended is the hardest and one of the most important things a parent can do. Hearing my daughter say, I blamed her, stung a little. I had to follow the advice I constantly give my kids, Is it true? No of course that wasn’t true. But the truth in how she felt came out. Anger is a little like alcohol, sometimes it can be a truth serum, but you got to be willing to remain unoffended. Your children will thank you, their children will thank you, their children will thank you….