Children hear, see, feel and understand differently. For children, Elmo is president and the entire week is scheduled for: Eat and Play. Children of parents suffering through the hell of a child custody battle tend to know more about the case than either parent (or the judge) would like. And often enough each parent blames the other for this, when really is it both of their faults. And here is why. It is not that a parent INTENDS to use the child / children as a part or pawn in a custody battle but what parents often mistake is accounting for how darn intuitive children are.
Your child can glean your mood or your stress level or your general anxiety and unhappiness by the slightest change in your tone of voice, by how you put your coffee mug down, by how you fold the laundry. They are little detectives. So even if you tell them you are okay, and even if you channel Cate Blanchette and put on your very best acting performance they will know something is not right. And telling them the opposite only makes them more suspicious and confuses them.
Here is a secret that should scare parents half to death: Your child knows you better than you know your child. Sounds ridiculous, right? How could that possibly be? What in the hell am I talking about? Listen. I know. Your child is your whole world. And there is not way your little four year old or six year old is smart or sophisticated enough to understand you. But they don’t have to understand you – they just have to know you. Because while your child is your entire universe that child has depended on you – and admit it, your whims – for every bite of food, every hug, and every smile. A child knows you and when something is wrong in your life, and almost no matter what they will come to their own conclusions about what is wrong (Mom is upset) and who is to blame (if Mom isn’t upset with me, she must be upset at Dad). And so even the most vigilant parents sometimes fail to insulate a child from the goings-on in court. And that’s okay. Like with all parenting, it’s the trying that counts!