Kids know that they're made from both of their parents — even if that connection isn't biological. What happens when parents divorce, and the kids feel like you hate their other parent? Here's how I have handled talking about my daughter's dad.
Today I want to share one of the things that I constantly said to my daughter (and still say to her) being part of a divorced family. This can be useful to pretty much everybody.
But when a kid is part of a divorced family, often they internalize the fact that their parents don't get along and they think to themselves, "Mom hates Dad," or "Dad hates Mom." And because of that, they subconsciously worry, "they hate part of me."
It doesn't matter if this is a biological parent or not. I want to make sure to remind you that this is true for gay families as well, regardless of biology. It's true even if you are divorcing a step-parent that the child has a strong relationship with. Our kids see themselves in each of their parents.
When you talk smack about the other parent, or your face shows your emotions (or your like or dislike for their other parent), your child feels that. And they internalize it, because they know on some subconscious level that they are half you, and half the other parent. This is why it's so important not to talk badly about their other parent.
But I have always taken this one step further . . . and I want to share how I talk to my daughter about this, because I think if all of us who have divorced, if we could all talk to our kids this way, it would really help them.
So here it is. I have always said to my daughter: "You are made up of all of the best parts of me and all of the best parts of Dad. We each gave you every good part of us. And you are funny like your dad and your silly like your dad. And you have great brown eyes just like your dad. And look at your skin is so beautiful. It's exactly right in the middle of me and Dad! Isn't that cool. And you know, nobody is perfect. And we gave you some things that weren't great. Dad gave you his canker sores and I gave you my tummy aches when I get anxious. But you are made up of every good part of both of us, and you're so wonderful. You're beautiful inside and out. And that is because Dad gave you all of his best parts and I gave you all of my best parts."
That has really allowed her to understand that there are parts of her father that I love, and that those parts of him are in her. And I think it has helped her to accept herself and all of her different parts.
We've also talked about the fact that Dad and I didn't get along very well. And she's asked me things like, "I think Dad has this... Or I think maybe you have that... Do I have that, too?" My answer is always that she has all the best parts of both of us, but all of us have our things that we struggle with. Dad and I are no exception. And maybe you might struggle with some of those things, too. But we can all overcome them. We can all work to make ourselves better. But, you know, you really got off on the right foot in this life, because your dad's pretty great and and I'm pretty darn great, too.
So I hope that that helps you. It helps not only your kid, but it also helps kind of bring to light the good things about you and the good things about your ex — which is nothing but good for your relationship going forward. So I hope that helps.