Respecting a child’s emotions in split homes

I remember when I was about 8 or 9 and my parents were going through a divorce. I was living in a council estate with my granny and Mum while my estranged Dad carried on as normal in a little cottage smack bang in the middle of the fields. My whole world was turning upside down yet all my friends seemed to carry on enjoying their blissful existence, free to experience childhood flanked by happy parents and a loving family home – they didn’t have to tolerate anything (well at least that is how it appeared to me as an 8 year old). 

When you are 8 you have no choice about where you live or how you are brought up. That is down to your mother (as the main carer). Unless of course your mother is a headfuck, in which case social services kick in. I idolised my Mum and was led to believe that all the shit we were experiencing ‘couldn’t be helped’ and that it was ‘the only option’. It wasn’t until I was much older that I realised that there was nothing compulsory about it – Mum had a choice, she took it, it sucked and she now regrets it. But, going back to my 8 year old existence, If I am honest, I resented my friends at school. My life was falling apart and theirs wasn’t. So, I started to steal from them. I used to wait until they had left the classroom and then I would open their flip-top desks and help myself to anything I fancied. I can’t explain exactly why I did it although I am pretty confident a child psychologist would have had a field day. 

So, when my neighbour (the one I have mentioned in previous posts who admitted she loves her youngest from her 2nd marriage more than her eldest from her first) said to me that her eldest has started to steal from one of her best friends, I was not surprised at all. She is a head-fuck, like I was as a child. No wonder given the poor consideration her mother has for her emotional well-being. The girl lives with her stepdad and his baby and her own mother heaps more attention on the newborn than her. To make matters worse the mother says horrible things about the girl’s father in front of the girl – what’s even more worrying is the girl is too submissive to defend her Dad although she clearly loves him. Its a dogs dinner of a situation. 

My daughter really enjoys spending time with the girl and she has been her saviour during school playtimes where she has been struggling to bond with girls in her own year group. The only thing is my daughter mentioned to me that the girl (her friend) pretends to be horrible to her when they do role-plays. This doesn’t affect her as she still wants to play with her but it does cause concern because I know the sorts of things I experienced with friendships when things weren’t right at home and I don’t want all this negativity and mindfuckedness rubbing off on my daughter. But, I feel for the girl as I understand what she is going through so figure the best thing I can do is to establish a bit more control on their relationship by insisting all playdates take place at our house and then I can keep an eagle eye (and ear) on what is going on. No mother is perfect and we all make mistakes (I am the first to have cocked up on several occasions hence turning to the methods of positive discipline). But, it is sad to witness carelessness and thoughtlessness of a child’s emotional well-being. I try not to stay for too long on the occasions when they invite my daughter over for play (which I am going to have to put a stop to somehow) as I also don’t like to see how they shut their dog up in a room on its own without a walk all day because they are too preoccupied with their baby or their house. When the door to where the dog was kept was accidentally opened the dog rushed out wagging its tail craving for attention, both my neighbour and her husband shouted ‘BED’ in unison and the dog skulked back into the room. The dog is fed and watered and has shelter but …….life needs more.

I am blogging every day to raise money for Unicef. If you would like to donate to the campaign, please visit my page on Unicef’s website.

Thanks for reading.

 

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