For years my friend has been covering up her husband’s faults to the kids. The kids are still young – 12 and under — and she doesn’t want to poison them against their father. So she would make up excuses and try to act like he was a reliable man who cared about his family and everything was fine.
Well they are finally getting divorced and his faults continue to be the same and she cannot decide if she should continue to cover them up or let the kids see (or at the least the oldest see) what is really going on.
So for example, he bails at the last minute on his weekend time with the kids. He doesn’t want to take all the kids, only some of them. He’s late picking them up and isn’t mindful of their schedule. The family still doesn’t have the money they need and she is left trying to explain why things in the house don’t work or why they may need to move soon.
So should she say “Daddy had to work this weekend and that’s why he can’t see you” or “Daddy made plans with his friends and doesn’t care to see you?” Does she say “We don’t have enough money to fix the dishwasher” or “Daddy spent our money on something unnecessary so we don’t have enough to fix the dishwasher.”
She’s not sure why but the kids are under the impression that the husband chose to move out and leave the family. She can’t decide if that’s actually better than the truth that she kicked him out.
So what do you think? How do you balance not trying to badmouth your ex with the reality of the situation? How much should this mother say? How much should she continue to cover up and to which kids? Does she let her oldest the truth? Would this be worse to find out later in life or should they be left to figure it out on their own?