Listening to our children is an important skill to learn. If we take the time to really listen, we may find that they are smarter than we think. I am always amazed and wowed at the depth of children’s comments. They understand their parents far more than we imagine and they know all the tricks of the trade. I have heard kids say, “I spilled the garbage so that my parents would yell at me and stop yelling at each other.” An amazingly sophisticated ruse which implicated the child and did the trick – her parents stopped yelling at each other.
Not only can our kids “read” our moods and minds, they also are pretty good at taking the thermometer of our relationships. Their antennae is super sensitive to tension between parents and no matter how hard we as adults try, kids know when things are not right.
It’s a fine line between having your child in the middle of tension and being transparent by sharing the fact that yes, there is tension, but these are grown-up problems. It may even be of benefit for you and your partner to agree to disagree in private, and to put aside any conflicts in front of the children. Children do not need to be tangled in adult conflicts. It simply is not fair, because they don’t have the coping mechanisms to deal with them on a productive level.
Please take a moment to step back and put yourself in your children’s shoes. When you slow down, you will be able to listen. You may be surprised by what you hear.