What Do I Tell the Kids? [Ask Dr. Miro: What You Didn’t Learn In Health Class]
Dear Dr. Miro,
My husband and I are in Couples Therapy, which is a good thing. We have a lot of things to work through that I feel are totally attainable. The problem is when our 5 & 8-year-old kids ask, “Mommy where are you & Daddy going?” and I say an appointment. And they ask what kind. And I say a doctors. Then they get worried that we are sick and I don’t really know what to say. I know they have had the terrible misfortune of hearing some of our arguments and must have picked up the tension in the house but what should I tell them? Also, I may need to go to rehab for 21 days and I REALLY don’t know what to tell them about that.
Finally Trying to Do Right
Wow. I suppose I should congratulate you on taking care of your personal relationship in an adult fashion. But, to throw in that piece about needing to go to Rehab as an aside, needs addressing in, and of it’s self. The fact that you “may need to go” is a telling part of the stress, tension and erratic behavior your children and husband have no doubt experienced. The thing about kids is that they absorb EVERYTHING going on around them. This includes your behavior, emotions and, to get a bit hippy-dippy, your psychic energy. Your lovely children are more than likely aware that something is wrong with you. And, if they are not, they are at least on to the fact that you are not happy. Whether or not they internalize this notion and feel it is their fault is another thing.
Everyone wants the best possible version of yourself that you may attain. Bring up this elephant in the room. It is not a good idea to lie to the kiddies, as you probably want to be attempting to build trust and understanding between you all – nor should you tell them all the Gory Grown-Up details. Address your offspring with age appropriate respect and kindly tell them something along the lines of, “You know how Mommy has been a bit sad and acting funny lately? Well, I am taking care of this so I can be a better person – be the Mom I want to be for you both. Daddy has been taking me to Mommy Classes and I may have to go to a Mommy Camp.” Start with that and see how it goes. They do not want or NEED all the minutia. In fact, all your kids probably want to know is that you love them and are going to return, happily, to them.
Lust & Happiness,
P.S. This is my 100th “Ask Dr. Miro”! Much gratitude to all the readers and fans out there who have been so encouraging, I am so lucky to have an amazing site, like F&N, to submit my column to. Big thanks to ETC, Amy and of course, OM… Here’s to another 100!!!
Editors Note: Congrats Miro! We love your straight-forward, problem solving and look forward to the next 100+!
featured image credit: pni