Friday, October 25, 2013

Day 16:: A filter...

photo credit: Sarah G... via photopin cc

The words of the reckless pierce like swords,
    but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

That phone call. A text. A letter in the mail.

Thoughts. Conversations. Broken promises.

Careless words spoken to you or about you.

Difficulty in communicating basic needs for your children or simply a lack of caring or understanding.

Desperately wanting more involvement for your children's sake, yet hitting a brick wall at every turn.

Many things can bring up negative emotions in regards to your children's father. The above is definitely not an exhaustive list.

And the biggest struggle...can be the filter for your mouth.

When emotions are high it can be so easy to share, even if indirectly, the negative feelings you have about their father. Especially when they are involved.

When he cancels on them. When they come home sharing details of events or relationships you'd rather not hear about. When they divulge that he's said something negative about you. Those are the bite-your-tongue-in-half moments.

I wish I could say that I have mastered this one 100%. I haven't. But I am getting better. It is a process for sure.

Here's what I've come to learn. Kids are smart. And they will eventually come to their own conclusions. Some may be positive. Some may be negative. But they need to to come to those decisions without your help. Only then will it show integrity in you and your relationship with your kids.

When my sister's oldest daughter was in elementary school, she came home one weekend upset with lots of questions. She eventually sat down with my sister and my mom to discuss what had happened. Apparently, her dad and her paternal grandmother had said some horrific things about our family. Lies and assumptions mostly, but horrific none the less. My niece was so upset. She couldn't understand why her father and grandmother disliked her mom and her family so much. It was hurtful.

My mother, in all her wisdom, acknowledged what they had said and didn't brush it off, but turned around and spoke nothing but kind words about them. She explained that she was saddened by what had been said, but that she had no ill feelings in anyway towards that family. She explained that even though they may not like her, she would always like them and be kind to them.

Eventually, as my niece grew older, she began to see on her own, some of the holes in the stories. She began to witness some of the issues that most of us had known all along. She eventually came to her own conclusions. Some were painful and disappointing, but she owned them. She was never told them. At that point, she could look back and see where her mom had done her best to protect her, but never persuade her into negative thoughts. That means something.

Not only do we need to filter what is said directly to our children, but we also need to be careful when we think they are not in hearing range or listening.

I was having a private, heated conversation with the children's father on my front porch. The kids were supposed to be taking showers and getting ready for bed. I was surprised when I came back in the house to find one had sneaked downstairs without my knowledge.

And apparently the walls to my home are not sound proof because I quickly realized my conversation was overheard.

I immediately apologized for what I had said and that it had been overheard. I explained that no matter the problems his father and I have, we both loved him very much. In addition, I told him I believe his father is a good Dad and that I respect him for the good care he takes of them.

I want you to make note that I did not lie. I pulled every positive thought I could muster and shared it. I did not go over the top with feelings I did not have to try and smooth things over. Remember when I said kids are smart? They will know if you're pulling their leg too. I guess it goes back to "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all".... or wait until you can.

I've also heard that sometimes kids can somehow turn it around and think you have those same negative feelings about them. Because they are a part of him and they love him just as much as they love you. They are still his blood. And blood is thick.

I can tell you that sometimes my own family can drive me batty. And I will complain and say whatever I want about them. But I guarantee you no one else will in my presence. Because they're my family. And I'll say what I want, but you don't have that right. It's the same thing for your kids.

Their father is not blood to you. Maybe at one time you would have protected him to your death, as I would have. But that is no more. He is blood to them though. He is their family and they love him.

Or maybe you never had a close relationship with him, but your children do. And they need to have that. Don't stand in the way.

Or maybe you dread the day they are heartbroken because you know it is going to happen, and all you want to do is try and protect them. I'm telling you, in this case, you can't. They have to find out on their own. The only thing you can do is be there when it happens. And hold them in understanding. They will respect you for it. And they will see that you are the one who's always been there, and always loved them.

You would never want them to blame you in anyway that they have no relationship with their father. You want your relationship with them to be strong and unbroken. And that only comes with filter.

Gracious words are a honeycomb,
    sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

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