Parents Your child is not your therapist, nor is s/he a spy or s/he a friend who keeps your secrets. Please keep your children out of the middle of your relationship. I was actually compelled to write about this because most parents make this mistake without even knowing it, ultimately damaging their children.
A friend of mine told me her mother was constantly coming to her to tell her about her problems with her father and how he threatened to divorce her. She told me that listening to her mother all the time made her hate her father, despite the fact that he had done everything he could to provide for her.
Ogechi from (x-town) told me that as a child, she begged her mother not to speak negatively about her father to her, and each time she disrespects her dad because of the negative stories she heard from her mother, the mother ends up being mad at her. She also told me that it was hard for her to compartmentalize her dad’s being cruel to her mom and him being her dad who tried to give her a good life. This has strained her relationship with her father to this day.
Ebuka from (y-town) also narrated his story to me, about how his parents fought in front of him all the time and would always bring him into the middle of it to take sides, and how it affected him so badly as an adult.
I even have a personal story about a couple I recently counseled. While she was growing, her mother’s relationship with her dad was a bit rocky at some point. The mother would always call and tell her how bad all men were and how she should never trust any man. In her mother’s words, all men are cheaters, and they will leave you for another woman once they become successful. Her mother had no idea that she was subconsciously internalizing all of these words as her truth.
Fast forward to after she married a young, calm, and loving man—she kept her guard very high and was constantly looking for ways to fault him. I heard the husband’s side of the story, and he told me it was almost like his wife was constantly looking for evidence to prove that he’s cheating or trying to outsmart her, and this behavior has really taken a toll on their marriage, and he was fed up trying to prove anything to his wife again.
Are you seeing the pattern here? Some times, we parents do things that subconsciously damage our kids without even knowing. In my years of counseling, I have observed that some women try to use their kids as a tool for punishing their husbands in cases of separation, disagreement, or divorce. If you really love your children, you shouldn’t be doing this. In most cases, you are not hurting your husband, but the children you claim to love.
If you are a parent, please remember that your children are not your therapists, and they don’t need to hear about your marital issues. Always look out for their mental and emotional health as you go through difficult issues, or your relationship can suffer in the long run.