Avoid using your Children as Pawns in your Divorce
Too many adult parents divorce because they fail to effectively communicate with each other. They still have to remain in contact with each other if they are both to be involved and effective in co-parenting the children. Though emotions like anger and fear may run amuck during a divorce, it is very important to avoid using your children as pawns in the process. Unfortunately the insecurity, pain and competitive nature of divorce all to often lead many people to leverage their children, even indirectly. No matter who “wins” the divorce – if the children were used as pawns – they lose and the children are the ones that suffer for it every time.
Keeping the children from seeing their other parent as a way to get back at them for the hurt they have put you through is common. That is a way that many divorced couples seek to punish each other. Yet the children are the ones who suffer from it because they are torn between the loyalties and idea of how “good kids” should be/feel about their parents, what it means about them if their parent(s) are as bad as the other says and out on the connection of these relationships that are focused on a war rather than shepherding the kids through this tough time. Unless the other parent isn’t fit to have the children alone then you need to let them have a healthy, active relationship with both of you.
Many children do miss the other parent when they are staying with one. This can sometimes hurt the feelings of the parent they are with. Yet it is important to understand that children have unconditional love for both of their parents all the time. Allowing the children to call the other parent when they miss them or even as a standard ritual before bed can help to relieve their anxiety. It will also allow them to enjoy their time with each parent more.
While children do need to know what is going on as far as the divorce is concerned, they don’t need to know all of the details. Important issues that have to be discussed between the parents should be done privately – this means not within hearing distance of the children. Make a commitment to your children and simply avoid the hard conversations with your partner, legal counsel and even supporters when and where the kids can hear. Remember that little ears can hear a great deal so don’t be cavalier about this and make certain they aren’t even around when you are talking about sensitive issues.
When issues arise that involve your children you will need to work together to resolve them. When the parents are offering the opposite solution just to be difficult it only hurts the child more. For example if you have a high school student that has been cutting school you need to come up with a course of action to make them responsible. If one parent thinks it is a big deal and the other parent doesn’t mind then it become an ongoing issue. Stop thinking of what you want and try to focus the discussion on their need rather than you opposed opinions.
Children of divorced parents are going to follow the guidelines of the parent that is in their favor on set issues. I guess you could say it is one of the few perks that children of divorces couples are able to exercise. Yet this can lead to many more issues down the road. So instead of using the children to drive your ex spouse crazy find ways to work as a team to do what is in the best interest of your children. Don’t get caught up in trying to make up for time with toys or thinking that quantity ever beats quality time. Kids don’t need your investments they need you to be invested in them.
Never under any circumstances should you be passing messages to your ex spouse through your children. Period. This is a horribly unfair position to put the kids in – even for small things. Adults speak to adults on adult matters. (notice the word “child” wasn’t in there). Being a courier for parental messaging isn’t their responsibility and too often these children are being told to say things they don’t want to repeat. You also don’t want to be asking your children for information when they return from a visit. A check in is one thing, but ask yourself if your inquiry leans toward information you’d like to know or caring about their experience from their perspective.
It is fine to ask them what they did and if they had a good time. However, you will be overstepping the boundaries if you are asking specific questions. They shouldn’t have to tell you what was said, who was around, and other details of their time together with the other parent.
If you are having a hard time coming to terms with your divorce, seek professional counseling. You will be able to work through your emotions and set goals for your future. You don’t want to dwell on what has taken place or suppress your feelings. You want to be able to have a good life and to be there for your children in a positive way. The most important thing to ask yourself before you engage your children is, “How are my actions going to affect my children?” If you keep this question in front of you and stay true to it throughout the divorce process and after, your kids will likely fare much better through the experience.
Kids are amazingly resilient. Even so, childhood is not a survival period – but a time to grow, flourish and become. You and your children will evolve and grow throughout the years. Remember this experience is only a small part of the journey – keep your heart and intentions invested on the road ahead, not just today.
Live Better Live Better / Houston / Texas / Avoid using your Children as Pawns in your Divorce