I believe honesty is important. I believe that being honest with our children is especially important, but how much honesty is too much? My children are young and, at 4 and 7, they don’t really need to understand all of life’s challenges. However, they have experienced a lot at such young ages. They have felt a fear of abandonment, fear of losing me, fear of feeling unwanted, the loss of their dad, and, in general, the fear of the unknown.
My sons’ dad lives in a different state so they rarely see him, but he continually makes plans to come down for a visit. The week before he’s supposed to come, I begin to pump them up to see him and tell them how they are going to have the best time. Then, on the day he is supposed to come, I will call him and he will tell me he’s no longer coming. There’s always a variety of excuses. What I think makes me the angriest is that I am always the one who has to break it to my kids that he isn’t coming. I have to see their little faces grow sad. I have to watch my oldest son shrug and say he doesn’t care. What can I say to that? Because he’s right and he’s also entitled to his own opinion. In the end, I just give them lots of love and tell them that their dad loves them very much and that sometimes things happen that are beyond our control.
Don’t get me wrong, I have a laundry list of things I would love to tell them about their dad, but that would only hurt them and I would never try to interfere with their relationship with him. They need him in their lives and hopefully, he will realize that, too. Besides, even though it’s always best to tell the truth, sometimes telling white lies to your kids benefits them the most.
Divorce is hard on kids, but when one parent moves far away and quits making an effort to be a parent, it leaves the other parent to answer a lot of questions. I don’t have all the answers. Half of the time, I just make it up as I go and maybe that is the worst thing I could do. When my parents got divorced I was 7 and they neglected to tell me. Instead, they made up a story about my dad moving stuff to his office. When I finally realized what happened, I was angry that they lied. I carried that anger into adulthood. My hope would be that my children never hold something like that against me, but telling them what is going on is sometimes such a balancing act. You’re never sure if they are going to understand what is going on or place the blame on you.
It’s hard to talk to my kids about what’s going on. My oldest bottles it up inside and I know he is hurting. He tries so hard to act like an adult and wants to know the answers to everything, but I want him to stay a kid as long as possible. He doesn’t need to hear about life’s hardships yet. As it is, he’s already felt them.