Children of divorce are often turned into spies and bargaining chips, which is detrimental to their emotional health. Being used to dig up dirt on the other parent or not being picked up by the non—custodial parent so that a point can be made is cruel and damaging. Children are innocent in the divorce process, and parents need to remember to parent while getting a divorce.
Sometimes it can be hard to keep kids out of the middle of a divorce. They may initiate a conversation with you that leads you to believe they have been spoon fed some bad information but what really happened was that they eavesdropped and got only part of the information. Don’t leap to conclusions but rather extend the benefit of the doubt as much as possible.
Children of divorce are still children. Some kids are more than happy to sandwich themselves right in the middle of their parents in order to start a bidding war for attention and in some cases, gifts. Most children will respond to parental gifting as a method of appeasement as a way to manipulate the situation.
No matter how your child is responding to your divorce, you are in charge of your own actions and falling into a situation where they have to report into you or are sent to your ex spouse with a list of questions to ask is not helping them through the divorce at all. Not only are you teaching them to manipulate others, but you are also cluing them into parental information that they might not need to know.
There is a difference between showing interest and grilling your child. It is perfectly acceptable to ask how their visit with your ex went. The information that they offer you is only their perspective and it is part of their life now. This is much different than asking specific questions and encouraging them to get the answers during the next visit.
Many parents are very good about keeping children out of the middle of the divorce until the ex finds someone new. Then, jealousy and resentment rears up and the child is suddenly plagued with digging up dirt on the ex spouse and their new relation. None of which is in any way healthy or appropriate. Keeping your feelings and your child’s feelings as two separate and unrelated entities helps keep you from using your child to find out information about their other parent.
Telling Kids About Divorce
This is one article in a series which explains how to tell children about divorce - other articles in this series are listed below: