Divorce: Don’t Put Children in the Middle

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“Conflict is inevitable, but combat is optional.” ~ Max Lucade

It is hard enough for children to deal with their parent’s divorce without being drawn into the adult issues. This can happen when parents fight in front of the children. It can also happen inadvertently when a friend comes for coffee and the other parent is being discussed, or while venting to a family member on the telephone.

Children love and need both parents, and we need to help preserve their sense of the goodness of the other parent, despite our own judgments. To be told their Mother or Father is bad, or to hear the details of how much hurt that parent caused the other sets up huge tensions within their little psyches.

Children need to be able to express their feelings, and regardless of how difficult it may be for parents, they still must support their children through the process in an objective way. How can a child tell Mommy how much she misses her Daddy, when all she hears is what an awful person he is and how he does not care about his family? How can a child tell his Daddy he is lonesome for Mommy and wants to phone her, when every time his parents talk on the phone there is a big fight?

It is no different when the children are teens, or even adults. It is unfair to use a child as a confidante with whom to share one’s hurts and resentments. It is also unfair to make sarcastic comments about the other parent in the presence of the child. Such comments tend to backfire anyway. Instead of eliciting sympathy, the child tends to resent the one who makes the nasty comments.

Do your children a favor and take the high road, at least when they are within earshot. This will cause them less discomfort, and you will also be modeling how to handle difficult situations with integrity.

Copyright © Gwen Randall-Young, All Rights Reserved. Contact us if you would like permission to reprint.

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