Was chatting with a few friends this evening when a discussion arose about how children’s perceptions of their fathers (in a break up situation) can be quite different than those of the mother (the former wife). We discussed how sometimes a person may not notice something about someone until we are on the outside looking-in.
Now this is not like my observations about the Franklin Makeover in reverse. This is about the outside looking in versus the inside looking in. Stay with me here. It’s something you may recognize once I explain.
Many of us know families who have experienced a dissolution of a marriage where children are involved. While I do have an ex husband, we did not have children (unless you count the dog which I told him was a non-negotiable part of our settlement – full custody to me). I have however seen many break ups from the outside. But this is not the looking in I’m referring to here as in order to do that you must be part the equation – it is imperative to this observation.
When one divorced parent experiences less than desirable “______” (fill in the blank) from the other divorced parent, they have a variety of options on how they may communicate their feelings about their “ex” to their children. From what I can imagine (and have witnessed) parents typically choose to do their best to remain as neutral about the other parent as possible, avoiding influencing their child’s perception of their other parent OR they can choose to explain what the other parent has done (obviously from their perspective) which may result in something of a slam session depending upon what prompted the dissolution.
I’ve witnessed mostly the first option with a slight caveat – in many cases the parent holds their opinions in front of the children but when the children are not within the immediate vicinity, they voice their perspective (usually not so nice) to others who will listen.
The one parent is on the outside looking in at the other parent, no longer connected by marriage…supposedly seeing them for who they are objectively. While the child is on the inside looking in, seeing their parents from their own version of connection. This can result in a difference of opinion about the parent being viewed.
While the “in” (the other parent) may be exhibiting the exact same character traits, doing the same things they’ve always done, treating everyone the same as usual, both parties (the parent and the child) see them from a different perspective – one being in and the other being out.
So…what does this all mean? What do I observe from this interaction and review of our discussion this evening? It’s all about perspective! And our choice to choose love and who we love!
Now…even though I was not a product of a “divorce” my parents did not really get along. By the time I became old enough to be something other than a self-absorbed child (I believe this was around 8 or 9 years old) I recognized my parents were not like some of the other parents. While they were in the same house, they lived separate lives as much as possible. They did not like each other. I spent my entire life either being on my mom’s side or my dad’s side. Whoever’s side you were on would be slamming the other parent verbally. There was however, one slight reprieve. I recall having a good open line of communication with both parents at the same time for about 1 full year – I was 20 at the time. Unfortunately never to be repeated again.
When I recall this aspect of my life, I realize that I was on the inside looking in at both of my parents – recognizing each of their characters, their idiosyncrasies. Not sure who, if anyone, was on the outside in my situation.
Love is the ability and willingness to allow those that you care for to be what they choose for themselves without any insistence that they satisfy you. – Wayne Dyer
If you change how you look at things – the things you look at change!
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