“I like Dad’s house better,” I heard from the backseat of my car on our drive home from school. Um, what? I thought to myself as my heart broke just a tiny bit. Before I had time to respond, a second voice concurred. “Yeah, I like Daddy’s house better, too. When I sleep at your house I think there are spiders crawling all over me.” My daughter’s comment reminded me that my kids are, well, just kids, so I shouldn’t take this too personally.
I was quiet for a moment. How do I respond to that? Were they trying to hurt my feelings? They did just spend the last two days with their Dad, and although we attempt to make transitions easy on them, there is always a short adjustment period. But really? They like Dad’s house better? Part of me wanted to say, “Are you kidding me? We have a like-new 4-bedroom house with a ton of space. Everyone has their own room. We cook food that you love and you get dessert most nights. We live next to a park. We have a million toys. We do family game nights and we have a Nintendo Switch for crying out loud. We have fun.” Then I took a deep breath. This is a good thing, I realized.
After my much needed break for some inner dialogue, I said to them, “I am so happy that you love Dad’s house. You are both so lucky to have such a great Dad who has such a great house.” Not my most eloquent sentence but I guess it worked for a 5 and an 8-year-old. I waited for a response, but they said nothing. *Crickets* The silence made me a bit anxious, but I didn’t really know what else to say. When we got home, my son went to the park with my husband, Eli, and I played a sight word game with my daughter. It’s like they had completely forgotten about our talk in the car – but I hadn’t.
That night, I put them to bed as usual, and then I had some time to reflect on their comments. First of all, how fortunate am I that my kids trust me enough to tell me something that rude?! In all seriousness, this means that they know I listen to them, and that they can share their feelings with me. So even though it stung a little at first, I think my kids’ statements show that they feel secure and respected. Total parenting win! We need to celebrate these parenting wins when they happen, no matter how small.
Another positive aspect of the situation, is that my kids have a really great Dad. They clearly have fun during their time with him, and it sounds like they feel safe and protected. Apparently, there are less spiders at his place? Which seems to carry a lot of weight in my daughter’s rating of “favorite house.” Most importantly for me though, is that they feel comfortable, and happy no matter which parent they are with. So, even if I have to deal with a few semi-insulting comments from my kids every now and then, at least I know that it’s because we are doing something right.
Guest Writer – Megan, mom of 2