I’m Not the Messenger


There’s a phrase that people use when they have to deliver a message to someone even though they have nothing to do with the content of that message. They are simply the messenger. If it’s not good news, they may relay the message to the person and then say, “I’m just the messenger” or, “Please don’t shoot the messenger.” That person is trying to establish neutrality; they don’t want to appear to be taking sides.

This is exactly the kind of position children whose parents are divorced are put in when their parents force them to be some kind of messenger. If there is a situation about the parenting schedule that needs to be resolved, then parents should be talking about it with each other. Parents should not be saying to their children, “Well, you tell your mom (or dad) that…” because they are not willing to speak to each other. The same is true when mom or dad try to get information out of their children about what their former partner is doing. These parents try to casually inquire about a situation by asking what they did when they were at their mom’s or dad’s place, but then they might add, “Was anyone else there?” in an effort to determine if there is a boyfriend or girlfriend in the picture. Let me be honest with you. Your kids are way more perceptive than you think. They know when you are trying to pry for more information. If you have a question, ask your former partner, not your children.

What this all means is if you want to more successfully blend your family, then you will have to work hard at guarding your tongue. You need to be especially careful not to say something that is negative about your former partner or anyone in their family. Your kids will most likely still spend time with extended family members on occasion. Remember, your children love both of their families and hearing less than positive comments about either one puts them in a tough position.

Your child understands that they are a product of two people, which makes them feel like they are fifty percent of their mom and fifty percent of their dad. Therefore, if someone criticizes one or the other, the child can often take that criticism personally. They might not say anything to you, but it will be there.

If you have anger towards your ex-spouse, you need to figure out a way to let that go. Now, maybe some of that happens naturally with the passing of time, but please don’t make the mistake of involving your children in your battle. They are innocent. I imagine they may already feel some level of guilt because of the divorce, and when you heap on an onslaught of anger, it could really weigh them down.

I understand this balancing act between two formerly married people and their children is difficult, but it’s part of the consequences of getting divorced. It’s your responsibility, as parents, to be the adults and try to make it seamless for your children. They have no control over anything, and they were likely not in favor of the divorce in the first place. I’m not saying you need to give in to their every whim to make them feel better, but look at every decision and remark you make from their perspective. It will help you blend better and win more often at home.