Today, after soccer try-outs, I decided to take my little boy and one of his friends to our neighborhood water park. As I was sitting on the beach end with my book, a cute little blond-haired girl came and plopped down next to me and started talking away! As she was talking about her cute, brand-new bathing suit that her mother had just bought her, I asked her what her name was and how old she was. She said her name was Kelly and she was 5.
Kelly was a funny little girl. At the beginning of our conversation, she very matter-of-factly told me that she has been told that she is a “great talker” because she talks all the time! I thought….”Well, you’ve met the right person because I LOVE to talk too!” I was simply amazed at her maturity level. Kelly went on about the new friends she made at Summer camp, etc. About that time, I told her I had to go check my phone but I would return. I had a book with me but decided to put it down because Kelly just seemed like she wanted to talk. Upon arriving back to my spot, Kelly was gone and I went back to sunbathing. A few minutes later, I felt a cold, wet tap on my shoulder and she informed me that she was back to sit with me. What came next really made me sad.
Kelly began talking to me about her mom and her dad. She said her mom was really “pretty” and her dad was really “strong.” She then told me that her parents were separated and her dad had begun seeing another woman. About this time, I was uncomfortable because I knew her dad was sitting about 25 feet away. I decided I would just sit and listen to her. Obviously, she needed to vent, I thought. She went on about how she loves her daddy but she didn’t think it was right that he was seeing another woman so soon and that her mom was unhappy about it. She also stated that she doesn’t get to see her daddy much but that when she does she tries to make sure that she makes him happy so that maybe one day he will come back home. Okay, BREAK TIME, I thought. I had tears streaming down my cheeks under my sunglasses. During this time, I kept looking behind me to see if her dad would maybe come sit with her, etc., but no luck. Little Kelly went on and talked a little more, but I told her that I needed to check on my little boy. I REALLY wanted to go over and tell her dad that he needed to get off his touche and spend some time with his daughter and not under the cool umbrella by himself. But, obviously, I knew that was not my place. But, my heart was absolutely broken for Kelly.
One thing that I couldn’t get over after thinking about Kelly all evening was the mere fact that obviously her mother has subjected her to disparaging remarks about her father and further doing so by including Kelly in her grown-up personal life. It was clear that she was also making Kelly feel responsible for making her dad happy enough to return home. 5 year-old children should NOT have to ever feel this way or feel that they have to take sides with either of their parents. It’s not their responsibility to take care of us! Disparagement is one of the biggest issues in our family court system and happens in almost every ugly divorce or separation. I work in the legal field and have heard clients complain and seen Judges remark about it in court orders, but NEVER have I had a 5 year-old child sit down with me and speak it verbatim from her experience with it.
Maybe if someone is reading this post right now and is struggling with this issue in their current situation, no matter which end of the spectrum you are on, you will think twice. Disparaging the other parent in any situation is a huge NO NO! It is not only disrespectful to your child’s mother or father and to your own children as well, but it is extremely damaging to their self-esteem. Children want to emulate their parents. As my mother always said…Children Live What They Learn.
I wanted to share this with you today because Kelly really amazed me and has been on my mind all afternoon and evening. I will be praying for peace in her family.
Peace and Blessings,