My astute teen children continue to humble and amaze me with their insights and understandings. My youngest daughter finished her paper on her “Hometown Hero” with all her inaccurate fanfare of devotion from a father that didn’t ultimately choose his family, yet (in his estimation) chose to forego a life long dream in order to be a “better dad”.
My two oldest read it and showed some signs of emotion that I wanted to address and make sure weren’t causing them discord between themselves and their naive sister. I don’t interfere with the relationship he creates with them, or the way they interact with him beyond making sure they are respectable kids, but I DO care about the dynamics between the three of them.
I didn’t want the older ones to feel like she had been the “chosen” one. That they felt that their dad had picked her to ‘be there for’ over being there for them.
His tale had been woven around opting out of a job opportunity for the sake of his kids because he realized that he ‘never saw them anymore’. In reality, we moved. His job description changed. He had the option to join a team that would take him away, and I expressed how that would alter the course of his life to the detriment of his kids. He blamed me for having to make the decision. He didn’t selflessly recognize what was happening and go forward with the ‘greater good’ in mind. He resented that I ‘made’ him…I remember him answering the question during the course of the separation/divorce “what was one thing you remember doing for me, truly sacrificing” and his response at that time was how he didn’t get to ‘follow his dream’…so was that REALLY a self sacrifice for me, or was it how he is currently framing it as a ‘devoted father’ sacrifice for the sake of his children? I doubt HE even truly knows. I think his resentments of making the choice cloud his understanding of what a true sacrifice really entails.
So I talked with the older ones, in an effort to make sure there weren’t any hard feelings directed at the ‘devotion’ the younger seemed to feel that her dad had for her well being. Especially since the other two have never really felt a strong devotion toward them in any meaningful way.
We had a good talk. They were very empathetic to their sister’s emotions, though they truly saw them as exaggerations of a truth they generally had grasped already. They were also willing to allow her to have those misconceptions so long as it comforted her and they would be there for her when she came to truthful realizations in the future…when she was more capable of handling the harsh reality as they have had to come to do…
I think my kids are going to be some pretty damn amazing people…
they truly already are!
Sometimes it’s hard, seeing your child’s perception of the other parent. My ex did the same thing when he took a pay cut to switch from nights to days at his job. He propagated it as a big sacrifice that he made to have more time with the kids (he really did it for himself & doesn’t have more time with them) but then constantly complained about how broke he was because of it. But of course dad was the Really Super Great Parent because of the sacrifices he made for the kids.
At least your older kids see through this on their own. I’m told they all eventually do.
Sounds like your experience with the same situation didn’t go well…I hate how often ‘truth’ doesn’t get its fair shake…but then I wonder if truth is so grey that we all see our own version and there is no real ‘truth’ that can be realized fully. Maybe it’s better that kids don’t see the ‘truth’ of their parents as humans. Maybe it’s better for them to have the idealized versions that live on in their heads to strive towards. Who knows. Thanks for reading and for commenting. 🙂