telling the children

about a year ago…

We sat down in the living room on a snowy Saturday morning to tell the children that we didn’t want to be together anymore, and that Daddy would be moving out. It should have been obvious to me that he would throw me under the bus:  he clarified, “this is what Mommy wants.”

My younger was emotional; my older merely shrugged. The discussion was over almost before it began, and I later wondered why I had held so much fear about this moment. It was certainly something I had never wanted to do. I never wanted to have to tell my children that what they knew as a family could no longer remain intact. And yet somehow, at least my oldest, had known it was coming.

The children and I put on our wraps and went out to play in the snow. My older child, my daughter, was met at the playground by her best friend who, upon hearing the news, lamented, “That is so sad. My parents promised never to get a divorce.”

“Yes,” I said. “It is very sad.” I explained that I never would have wanted this for my children nor for myself. “You see the way your parents treat one another:  they talk with each other, touch and laugh together. Your parents are best friends. I would have loved that kind of partnership. But, as you’ve seen, we didn’t have that.”

Children have such a beautiful and authentic way of expressing themselves. I did my best to match that authenticity in sharing with my daughter’s friend, and on a level that all three children might hear and understand. In so doing, I was immediately reassured that the three of us, my children and I, would be all right after all.

I knew there would be difficult conversations, hurt and pointed questions from my children. What I did not anticipate was my own confidence and clarity in speaking to them. My own honesty and directness in this and other teaching moments has been a pleasant door open to trust and dialogue.

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