Apparently every child goes through a jealousy phase with their parents’ relationship. Somewhere in their little minds they see a bond between Mom and Dad that preceded them and is different than what he or she has with each parent. In typical development, the two or three year old see’s his parents hugging and will squeeze his way between the two, wanting to may sure he’s part of it. Then, somewhere along the line this little child realizes that his parents’ love for each other is not competing with their love for the child – the little one sorts it out and figures out how to cope or live, not being jealous, but being loved differently.
It’s a normal developmental stage that every child goes through with their parents.
At least, that’s what we’ve been told.
Now, picture this same development cycle in a child who is nine years old but has been with her parents for less than three years. This jealousy now comes with articulated words and understanding rather than simply squeezing herself between the two. Now she can actually tell her parents to stop talking to each other. She doesn’t know she’s jealous, of course, because her knowledge of love and relationship is not fully formed. She doesn’t understand that when her parents love each other it only adds to their love for her – it doesn’t take away from their love for her.
So today, on our 23rd anniversary, Karen and I spent it largely apart, at different churches on opposite ends of the day. While one was at church, the other was at home with Deepika.
No one told us in advance that this would be a thing. It was when we started noticing it that we were told, ‘oh yes, that’s normal’ and ‘all kids go through it’. We recognize now that our 20 years pre-parenting gave us a strong foundation for this. It’s ironic, because it’s our 20 years pre-parenting that’s the problem – it’s our life together and pre-her that she’s jealous of.
There are many ways in which our parenting story is like the story of typically-formed families.
And then there’s this.