At my other house. These words are spoken often in our family. It’s been nearly 7 years since my husband and I married. Each of our boys spends half the time with us and half the time with their other parent. Or as they refer to it, they each “go back and forth”. So, as expected, many stories involve happenings at their other houses.
At my other house is a phrase that (in my opinion) could naturally spark feelings of resentment and angst. At least, that’s what I tell myself, since those feelings have surfaced at one time or another. However, we always try to enjoy their stories, staying positive about what is going on in our children’s lives. The road is difficult to navigate. There’s a fine line between being interested and pushing for information; between sharing our opinions and criticizing; between taking pause to assess the situation and seeming too concerned that they hold back. Not to say that everything they share is negative, by any means. In fact, most stories are wonderful snippets of the experiences that help to mold our children. But, as parents, it’s hard not to raise an eyebrow sometimes, to not run to the other parent and call them out on something we view as wrong or questionable. We’ve learned that it’s all about picking your battles and most of them aren’t worth pursuing. Holding our tongues, not making snide remarks and keeping our own emotions in check is a struggle.
One thing is absolutely certain: these stories are the windows to their worlds we will never experience firsthand and likely the only glimpse we will ever get. We must stay committed to keeping these windows open and showing our children that we care more about them and their lives than we do our own egos and righteousness. It isn’t easy sometimes, but if those windows were to ever close, they would likely vanish for good.
So, if ever you get the chance to hear your children’s stories about their other homes, do so with as much interest and fascination as possible and know in your heart that just because you would do things differently, those feelings are not your children’s burden to carry, they cannot change what has been given to them. But you can always show them that, regardless of where they are and who they are with, you love them enough to just listen.© Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor & Reed, PA, 2013. All rights reserved.