Originally Posted by Zarie
I have to admit, I never actually thought of it that way - ever! has this worked for you?
I'm sorry I sounded so harsh before. I know there's a lot of conventional wisdom out there - and a lot of books by "experts" - that advise telling children in divorce things like "I'll always love your Mommy because she gave me you, but she and I just can't live together anymore". (...Well, if you "love" each other, why not?) Clearly, I emphatically think that approach is nonsense.
I have not had to deal with precisely the same situation/conversation you have to deal with, but:
1- In the early years of my split with my ex, he was... less than stellar
about showing up for visitation. Our young twins were (are) mildly Autistic, so unexpected variances from routine upset them. We did have some conversations in which I acknowledged their feelings and frustrations with something akin to, "No, it's not very loving behavior, for your Dad to not show up. Even adults make mistakes and handle things wrong sometimes. Let's enjoy being together today and hope that your time with Daddy works out better next week." Certainly, some people would tell you I should've stuck to something like, "You're the most important thing in the world to Daddy! Don't you ever doubt it! Something must have just come up. I'm sure he has a good reason." But what I actually said was true - and it validated thoughts the kids had already expressed on their own. As my ex grew up and has become impeccably reliable and involved, they have adjusted well and never gone through a period of resentment. I think being able to vent to me honestly and not have me tell them their instincts were wrong made that easier.
2- On a larger scale, I have an almost-11-year-old step-son whom I've known since he was 4 and who's lived with us since age 8, due to all the extreme crap his Mom did - from the time he was a baby - to try to exclude his Dad (my husband) from his life. Several times over the years, he has initiated conversations with me about his confusion, frustration or outright anger over things he's been put in the middle of. I know it's important that I not directly
criticize his mother, but I have certainly validated his feelings and his very astute (though painful) observations. I've said things such as, "Yes, I think it's terrible when one parent moves their child across the country from his other parent. It's awful for a kid to have to miss one parent or the other, all the time." Some would say I ought to keep up his mother's party line and say, "There's nothing wrong with parents living so far apart. It's a big adventure, to get to fly across the country for visits. And you can always stay in touch over the phone!" or "You are always your Mom's first priority. She just did what she thought was best for you." But those things aren't true - and he said it first. I really think he has adjusted so well to living away from his mother - and accepting me - because I don't lie to him, to try to make things sound pretty when they're not. I could go on and on with examples about him, but you get the picture.
Good luck. I know the position you're in isn't easy.