“Your daughter has questions about the divorce, but she is afraid to ask you.”
Those words were the most hurtful yet awakening words I have heard since I separated from my husband three months ago. As a once again single parent, I believed I was doing everything I could to ease the pain of the second divorce on my children, but reality just slapped me in the face.
That night I went through my usual structured nighttime routine, tucked my children in bed, and went and sat on my front porch – a place that has become my “thinking spot” at night. I analyzed how best to approach my daughter in a way that would not make her lose the confidence in the person she confided in, while somehow reassuring/encouraging her she could talk to me.
So the first question(s) that needed answering was why. Why is she afraid to talk to me, why have I not realized the impact this is having on them, why didn’t I see their concern, and why have I been so naïve to the reality of events happening in this place I call home?
I reflected on the events of the past months and years that brought me to my thinking spot. True self- assessment is not an easy or mundane task; it is much easier to point the finger of blame onto another. Yet the hard truth is you have no one else to blame except yourself. Even worse, your innocent children are victims of your choices and now become part of your consequences.
It felt like a slow motion scene out of a horror film with this realization. With the playback in my mind now focused on my children, I finally heard their voices, their discounted statements, and their attempts at sarcasm. With the terror only a parent understands, I discovered I had not been listening.
Caught up in the stresses of work, the pending divorce, the adjustments to single parenthood, a new school year, soccer games, and all the other tasks involved with raising children and managing a household, I failed to use one of our most powerful senses as human beings – hearing.
I had proudly and boastfully proclaimed that with this change in life, I was going to focus on raising my children. I made a promise I would never put them through this difficulty again – one I still intend to keep. I took them places and made sure we did fun things together. All the time thinking I was succeeding, when in reality I had failed--like every sentence in this paragraph reflects, the focus was truly on me.
Saturday morning, after a few nights had passed, I heard the earlier-riser daughter turn the television on to watch cartoons. I called her into my room, had her climb in bed with me, held her in my arms, and I listened.
So as my recent Facebook post stated, our children have a lot to say, it is our responsibility as a parent to take the time to sit down and listen.