A Letter From Your Child
“Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Phil. 2:4
One of the toughest things parents face when their marriage is breaking up is staying focused on the real best interests of their children. Sometimes there are major disagreements about what that best interest is. But perhaps even harder is being sure that the parents are not calling something the best interests of the children when it is really something that is in their own best interests. Many children are not able to express what is really important to them, but many are never asked by their parents either. This letter is meant to represent what child might say to his parents about some important issues if he could express himself honestly.
Dear Mommy and Daddy,
A few days ago you told me you were going to get a divorce. That makes me very sad because I think you are the two greatest people in the whole world and I don’t understand why you can’t just get along so we can stay together as a family. You told me that I will understand better when I’m older. Maybe so, but it sure is hard now. You also told me that it isn’t my fault, but I’m not too sure about that. I’m afraid that caring for me has made your problems worse, and I’m very sorry for that. I hope I can make it up to you. But I don’t know how.
I was talking to one of my friends. His parents got divorced last year. He said the hardest part is that he has to live in two places instead of just one. He wants to see his mom and his dad, but moving back and forth between his dad’s house and his mom’s house is hard. He is still trying to get used to it. He said that he had to go and talk to a judge, which was really scary. He was really old and wore a black robe. He had to go in the judge’s office, where there were lots of books and very big furniture. He said the judge told him that his mom and dad had to act in his best interests. He didn’t understand what that means, and I don’t either. Do either one of you understand that?
Anyway, he thinks it means that his mom and dad are supposed to think about what he wants, not just what they want. So I am writing this letter to tell you what I want just in case you need to know.
The main thing is that I’m really scared. I don’t know what’s going to happen to me and I can’t do anything about it. I’m just a kid, so I have to go where I’m told. I hope you will tell me exactly what is going to happen to me as soon as you can. Then maybe I won’t be quite so scared.
I love both of you soooo much! I always thought you love me too, but now I’m not so sure. If you don’t love each other anymore, how can you love me? I know you tell me that you do, but I hope you will show me as well because I really need to be sure. I think I can be strong enough to hang in there if I just know that. Sometimes I cry when you think I’m asleep because I worry about that so much.
My friend said that sometimes he can get away with stuff when he’s with his dad that his mom won’t let him do. That sounds pretty cool! But you taught me that sometimes your mom or dad needs to say no because what you want to do would not be good for you. I guess that’s true. And I guess I really hope that you will both tell me the same thing. If both of you tell me I can’t do something, I can believe it’s really wrong. But if you are always telling me different things I won’t know what is really right.
There is some other stuff I would like to tell you, but I have to start my homework now. I have an idea! Maybe all three of us could talk about what is best for me. I might have some ideas you haven’t thought of.
Of course, your child would write a different letter, or maybe no letter at all. But the feelings expressed in this sample probably track very closely at least some of the feelings your child has if you are going through a divorce. It can be difficult to put your children’s interests first, but paying attention to their feelings now will pay great dividends in their lives, and in yours.