Privacy (or Lack Thereof) and Divorce – When Your Kids Share Your Life
Starting a new life during or after a divorce is difficult enough. If one of your beloved children is your spouse’s spy, it can make things that much tougher. You need privacy, though depending on your child’s maturity, you may have a hard time keeping it.
Like so many other issues, you need a frank, adult discussion with your spouse on what is shared by whom and when. This must be tempered by your child’s age, personality, and maturity. What you should expect from a seven-year-old is different from what you should expect from a 17-year-old.
Sharing Too Much is Bad
You should both agree that your kids shouldn’t be telling the two of you details about each other’s lives. You also shouldn’t use your child to collect intelligence on each other nor should you believe everything you hear.
Generally, we want our kids to share. We want them to talk about their day and share their feelings, toys, and time. But they must learn that sometimes sharing is not a good idea. They must understand that some things, like information, shouldn’t always be shared. It may be difficult for a child to draw lines between things they can talk about and what they can’t.
It may not be your spouse bribing your child for the latest dirt. Your child may see it as a game. They have something they think has value, so they may believe they’ll get a treat if they tell it to you. The more you tell them you don’t want to hear it, the more they may want to spill the beans.
The two of you should also agree to communicate things impacting your child openly. It’s one thing to date someone new and maintain your privacy, but if they come to your home and meet your kids, you should let your spouse know what’s happening.
Sometimes, Not Sharing Enough is Bad, and Lying is Never Good
You must clarify to your child that there are still important things to talk about, like if someone is abusing, bullying, or harming them. If you or your spouse is losing control and lashing out at your child or neglecting them, that’s not a secret they should hold. Your child needs to understand which secrets to keep and which ones to divulge.
Telling your child you want to keep your privacy so they shouldn’t disclose some things is one thing. Telling them they should lie to cover something up for you is another. You’re setting an awful example for your child that will come back to haunt you. If you teach your kid it’s okay to lie, that’s a lesson they’ll use for years.
In the future, when you catch your child in a lie and it angers you, who’s to blame? Don’t you think your child will throw back in your face the lessons in lying you taught them? Parents in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.
If you are considering getting divorced or need legal representation in a divorce matter, it is critical to get help and guidance from a trusted expert in family law. Contact us here at Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C. to see how we can help you.