“Write about your contribution to your children’s survival in your next blog.” (Dad)
This suggestion came from your dad in an email to me about ten days ago. (I’m quoting him directly; you can see the email in its entirety if you wish.) I thought about this for a while and decided to take him up on it. But probably not in the way he expects. You see, his email was about what he feels I’m not doing right now towards your “survival.” He thinks I ought to provide details about our financial arrangements. I am left wondering one thing:
Why would our children need to know anything about financial decisions between their parents, as he suggests you do?
Indeed, there are some matters that involve an entire family; information that is best shared with everyone (taking into consideration age appropriateness, if need be). However, there are some details that children do not need to know, regardless of their ages. Reading legal documents, for example. Divorce settlements, spousal support, child support, contents of personal fights and conversations. Does dad tell you these things? Yes, I’m quite aware that he does. Does he tell you these things about his relationship with J … their financial agreements, how they split expenses, their intimate life, their disagreements and differences? I hope not. So why would it be necessary to share those kinds of things with you when it has to do with him and me?
A parent has a responsibility for their children’s well-being. Taking that into consideration, there are questions to ask before sharing details of any aspect of a parental relationship.
1. What are the reasons to share this information with our children?
2. Are our children being harmed by not having the information I am about to reveal?
3. How will it help our children to hear what I am about to tell them?
4. Do the possible benefits of revealing this to our children outweigh the possible harm?
It is not respectful to share intimate and legal details with your children. Certain things are between the parents. This is commonly recognized wisdom. Including your children in your relationship’s inner workings is unnecessary, inappropriate, and recognized in the mental health field as harmful. The absolute most important detail that children deserve to know is that their parents love them without exception.
Whatever arrangements that are worked out between your father and me should be just that: between us. And that is why I choose not to discuss certain things with you.
I will not talk about the details of disagreements, the details of finances, our sex life, or anything hurtful he has said to me. I firmly believe that those are between us, and to tell you is to burden you. Everyone has their side of the story, and I will tell mine – within the healthy boundary of respect for you, myself, and him.
There are indeed things better left unsaid; but there are definitely many, many things that can be shared. Those are the conversations I look forward to having. The conversations that heal hearts, strengthen bonds, and build bridges. Sooner or later, we all get tired of fighting ourselves. Sooner or later, we realize that silence and anger and blame don’t make us happy. Sooner or later, we want to feel whole.
Sooner or later, we realize we can’t do it alone.
I love you.