Why Children Shouldn't be Forced to Take Sides in a Divorce

Children should never have to take sides in a divorce. When parents expect children to take sides, it can not only cause great confusion but it can cause long-lasting psychological damage. Trying to win the best parent award and enlisting your children as judges can be extremely destructive for all concerned.

It can affect their mental health

Studies show that children with mutually supportive co-parents suffer from less anxiety and depression. The conflict between parents, not necessarily the divorce itself, can be the cause of many emotional issues in children.

Young children will often feel as though the divorce was their fault and that they could have prevented it in some way. Talking openly with them and reassuring them that both parents will continue to love them unconditionally, even though they may be living under different roofs, can help them to come to terms with new arrangements.

Interactive Counselling offers marriage counselling from expert therapists who can help your family to determine a “new normal” after a divorce that’s healthy for each member of the family.

They don’t want to take sides

Children often love you and your spouse equally and making them feel they need to choose sides is unfair to them. Children don’t need to hear what you truly think of your ex or to be a spy for you. A conflict of loyalty is often very unsettling to them. Make sure you communicate with your ex instead of communicating through your children. Children don’t want to be your messengers and they shouldn’t have to take on this role.

Children may want to please each parent and when they can’t seem to do so, they may just settle for short-term expediency. In other words, they learn to tell mom and dad what they think they want to hear.

It can cause self-esteem issues

Disparaging a former spouse in front of children can cause self-esteem issues because they know they are “part mom” and “part dad.” Supporting your children’s relationship with an ex allows them to embrace the parts of themselves that are like the other parent. When negotiating about the children, each spouse should try to see the other through the eyes of the children and keep the needs of the children paramount.

It can affect their future relationships

Your children watch how you relate to one another. When you and your ex are constantly fighting, your children won’t learn how to treat others with respect, compromise when appropriate and resolve conflict in a peaceful manner.

They don’t think of conflict as a normal fact of life with ways to resolve it. If they believe that a good relationship is one that is conflict-free, this fallacy can negatively affect future relationships.

When children are free to bond with both of their parents, they tend to still have a healthy attitude to relationships. If they do not have a secure attachment to both parents, they often become insecure adults who can’t form healthy relationships.

It can steal away the joy of childhood

Growing up in the middle of a war zone can take away children’s enjoyment of childhood. It’s a time when they should feel protected and safe.

When they have to expend energy by being involved in their parents’ battles, they may have little energy left to play, learn and develop. They may bottle up their own emotions, which can lead to resentment. The fact that the parents don’t communicate often means children have too much influence over communications and learn how to manipulate the adults in their lives.

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