When kids turn against you

Speaking negatively about a spouse might make children hostile towards them. Net photo

I have always wondered what parents tell their children about each other and the effect it has in the long run. I once knew of a couple where the husband had a well-paying job and could afford to provide for his family. He left work upon reaching retirement age, meaning he had a lot of time on his hands which he spent at home reading newspapers while his wife went to work and the children to school. In the beginning, he would get a few consultancies and at times, would go out to meet friends. After some time, both the consultancies and the friends dried up and naturally, he got bored of lazing around. His wife also seemed tired of leaving him at home and started throwing not-so-subtle hints that he should find something to do with himself. Meanwhile, he was waiting for his pension so he could invest it in a project that would probably occupy his time and give him something to do. Like many people waiting for pension payments, he lacked liquidity and had to survive on handouts from his family. He was in his early 60s.

After supporting him for a short while, they all started treating him like a burden. Every evening the mother and children would be crammed up in a corner discussing their ‘active’ lives, openly showing that if their dad was interested in participating in the conversation, he needed to have something to say, which from all indications came from having something to do and not just reading newspapers. It was also obvious that the mother was now in charge of paying all the bills in the home, including the rent and school fees, and she did not hide this fact from the children whether in a bid to earn sympathy from the children or to make their father look bad. Amid her constant lamentations of how she was struggling and how difficult things were, the children were made to forget about the good days they had with their dad; when he used to take them out and buy them treats. Slowly by slowly the man felt alone and dejected. When his pension came, he used it to build a family home in the village but it was not easy to tell whether his family was happy with the decision or not. To cut the long story short, he lived a lonely life for a few years with a family that treated him like he did not matter. Knowingly or unknowingly the mother turned her children against their father.

This story is just one example of cases where parents turn their children against one spouse or the other. Whispers such as ‘your father does not help with school fees at all’, ‘I wish I married a better man’ or others like ‘one day I will leave this home and take you wherever I go’, poison children against either parent. While I appreciate the value of honesty and frankness in the family, I write this because I believe that it is important to speak positively about your spouse in front of the children. Let them see for themselves the negative things if your spouse does not care to hide that side of themselves. Do not be the reason why your partner is left to wallow in loneliness only because you poisoned the children against him or her.

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@JackieLumbasi

 

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