Parents try to protect children from distressing realities, such as illness, death or divorce. But if you don’t talk to them about the difficult stuff, they worry alone …
About a decade ago, a friend I knew and cared about deeply told me that she was having an affair with her child’s best friend’s father. “My God,” I said, swallowing hard. “That’s complicated.”
It was complicated all right. The families lived practically next door and were in and out of each other’s houses all the time. But neither marriage was good. And my friend swore that this was the real thing.
The problem was her daughter. She worshipped her mum, watched her like a hawk. And though she was only six, she was one of those strange, precocious children who gets inside adult heads and roams around, looking for stuff. Like the fact that her mother was madly in love with someone other than her dad.
“You can’t keep lying to her,” I said.
“No, no,” she assured me. “It’s not a problem. She doesn’t suspect a thing.”
I looked at her. “She knows. She doesn’t know what she knows, but she knows.”
And she did. If ever a child knew something was wrong with her family, …read more