Recently, I worked with a Mom who was concerned about information she was learning from Sam, her four year-old son. She reported the divorce has been final for three years and was concerned about the lack of communication with her former spouse.
When I asked her to give me an example, she told me she recently learned from San that he is going to Legoland with his Dad in August. It was clear that she was surprised by the information. As I asked her to tell me more about their parenting communication, she stated, “We don’t talk much. Our son tells me quite a bit about what is happening with his Dad.” I learned something similar from Dad.
I took a breath. I was imagining what it must be like for Sam. His job description appears to be that of Mommy and Daddy’s Messenger. I know, for sure, he didn’t apply for that job and probably doesn’t want it.
So often, it seems, when parents aren’t comfortable communicating with one another post-divorce, they give their child the job of messenger. I always coach them to think about it from the child’s perspective. A child’s thoughts are probably something like this: Did what I just say make Mommy mad? Daddy sad? Did I say something wrong? Will I get in trouble?
The good news for Sam – His Mommy and Daddy have decided to terminate his job as their messenger. They are learning how to share that job on their own, as co-parents.