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Family Trouble: How Much Should Children Know?

Adult discord creates confusion for young children who miss their cousins.

Unfortunately, everyone isn't blessed with a wonderful extended family. As a teenager, I would marvel at families who seemed to get on just fine, coming together at any given moment for an impromptu gathering simply because they wanted to be together. I longed for that sense of belonging. For the satisfaction of knowing that you not only had your mom and dad, but your grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Even today, I envy those close-knit families.

Remembering all the discord among family members got me thinking about the best way to handle my own children in the event that relationships among relatives went South. In recent years, my husband and I have had the unfortunate opportunity to evaluate some of our own family relationships and decide how best to proceed. It's interesting how the passing of a loved one can bring out the worst in people.  

For this reason we chose to withdraw from family gatherings and have continued to do so for the last three years. Our daughters are confused and ask frequently about their cousins, wanting to know why they no longer see them. They know that relationships are strained, but have no firm details about the nature of the riff. We intend to keep it that way as we don't want to sour them.

What's the best way to explain adult disputes to children without turning them against family members?  

J July 21, 2011 at 06:19 PM
It's not the wording but the positive spin you put on it in your tone. Children are very easily distracted so after you explain 'it's a situation that we'll have to work out" & then say let's go under the hose outside! They'll quickly forget about the 'situation'. Also, if you can imagine a triangle w/God at the top & the two disputing parties at each bottom corner, notice how far apart they are when looking at each other, but how close together when they both look up to God! He's still in the miracle working business!
Bee Bee July 21, 2011 at 07:48 PM
Life as we know it can change in an instant! Do not waste another minute....make peace with your family! They are your family! Do the right thing and your children will learn from that wisdom.
Ryan Fitzpatrick July 21, 2011 at 10:37 PM
But, Uncle Jesse, hasn't it been hard on your family now that you've been dedicating so much time to the Special Victims Unit? Doesn't the strain of such a demanding job take its toll among the members of the house?
Uncle Jesse July 22, 2011 at 11:41 AM
Time is one of our most precious assets. So yes it has been hard spreading my life so thin with SVU. But little Michelle is always there to cheer me up with her adorable phrases. The biggest strain on our lives is definitely Kimmy Gibbler....
tofugirl July 22, 2011 at 08:09 PM
My dad's stepbrother was married to a psycho woman. Poor Uncle John was schizophrenic and once his wife sent him to Chicago from Minneapolis in a private ambulance and expected my dad to pay for it. A lot of conferences behind closed doors took place when I was a kid that I was not privvy too. The tension in the house was almost unbearable. Years later, I learned from my mother that this psycho lady would call the house and tell my mom that my dad was having an affair and all kinds of crazy stuff. We pretty much wanted to push Uncle John's lady in front of a moving a train.

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