(The Root) —
“My 6-year-old told her father that my boyfriend stayed over the last two nights. I told her not to talk about what goes on in my house with her father, especially since my boyfriend and her dad don’t get along, to the point that they don’t speak. I also discovered that her father has been bribing her to get information about me and my boyfriend. What do I do?” —J.E.
Your daughter isn’t the problem here, but your unrealistic expectations of her are part of it. She’s 6, and she’s doing what children her age do: Observe and talk about it. A young child should not be responsible for guarding her mother’s secrets.
No matter how you may feel about your ex, he’s an active participant in your child’s life, and you should encourage your daughter to have an open and honest relationship with him. By asking her to keep secrets from her father, you are implying that he is somehow outside of the family circle of trust. She may not live in the home with him or see him on a day-to-day basis, but she should be comfortable speaking with him about whatever she wants, including your business. It’s selfish to erode the relationship between them to serve your own best interest.
To makes things clear, your ex is also wrong. He should know better than to use his daughter as a pawn to get intel on you and your boyfriend. Even if it doesn’t take much to get good information from most 6-year-olds, bribing her and turning her into a spy is manipulative.
The quick fix here is to make sure your daughter has no grown folks’ business to tell your ex. And you can only make sure of that by keeping your daughter in the dark about the juicy details of what you’re up to. Have your guy spend the night when your daughter is visiting her father or other times when she is out of the house.
If those occurrences happen too few and far between for your desires, you can invite your partner over after your baby girl has gone to bed and send him home in the early morning before your daughter wakes. That’s not so convenient, or romantic, but it does address the surface issue.