Practical Dad

Father’s Lesson #2:  Uphold the Mother

Remember this:  Uphold your kid's mother.  Even when you're on the outs, uphold her to the kids.  Although it's lesson #2, it's actually the hardest to put into practice, and especially if the marriage is over.  But it has to happen.

Likewise, you should expect the same from the mother.  Hear that, ladies?

Why is this so important?

First, young kids aren't stupid and they'll see that marriages founder and families break up.  Even if your marriage is solid, snide remarks or complaints about your other half will cause concerns.  When my wife and I called the two eldest kids together to tell them of pregnancy #3, our daughter's first question on coming in was whether we were going to get a divorce.  Why?  A friend's parents had called her in similarly to tell her of their plan to end their marriage.  Growing up can be hard enough, don't make it unnecessarily harder.

Second, each parent - Mom and Dad - deserve to be given respect by the other.  Kids will realize soon enough that the 'rents aren't perfect, and there's no need to hasten that along or magnify the existing imperfections.

Third, and this feeds off of the second, kids are remarkably calculating.  They inhabit a world of egocentrism that only later gives way to a larger view - if it does at all.  To denigrate Mom - especially if she's home with the kids - will only give them additional means to exploit any parental cracks for their own ends.  And this can only foster more problems for you, too.

Finally, adulthood can exist in remarkable shades of gray.  Unfortunately, children see in stark black and white.  They cannot comprehend the stresses and tensions that inhabit adult relationships and to expose them to such in any casual way is to potentially overwhelm them.  There's a difference between a careful, planned explanation and an impromptu remark or slam.

There are difficult periods in any relationship, even if your mate is your best friend.  Don't create additional problems by losing your cool in a momentary pique.

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