No parent sets out to take divorce out on their children, but that is often what happens amid particularly bitter divorces. It’s something that Rosalind Sedacca sees all too often as evidenced in her post for Moving Past Divorce.
“The results can be devastating — not only for the ‘target’ parent, but for the children, as well,” Sedacca writes of divorce. “This is just one form of parental alienation which is a serious and very complex set of behaviors which often feel justified by the alienating parent. … The problem is that children get caught in the middle, are often confused about being told disrespectful things about their other parent and can learn to manipulate both parents in ways that are destructive for the child’s socialization and ultimate well-being.”
So true. That’s why we wanted to look at this phenomenon in a bit more detail today and point out the four ways you may be taking your divorce out on the kids.
1. Complaining about your spouse to them or in front of them.
Your child is half you and half your ex. It doesn’t take a mathematician to see what criticism of your ex can do to your young ones’ inner workings. They think that because you feel that way about their mom/dad, you must also feel that way about them, and that can really devalue their self-worth.
2. Using them as pawns in the ongoing conflicts between you and your ex.
Once the divorce is settled, it should quit being about the differences you have with your ex and start being about how you can work together to give your children a happy, stable life. Using them as couriers or spies isn’t a way to accomplish this. It only prolongs the torment of divorce for the child.
3. Wearing your heart on your sleeve.
Divorce can be an emotional time. It’s okay to find release for those emotions, but you do need to be mindful of what your children are going through and summon as much strength as possible so they can get the message that mom or dad is going to be okay, and so are they.
4. Retreating from life.
Your child wants to see you happy. They don’t want you to give up. Because when you give up, they feel responsible. Don’t put that on them. Find time for yourself. Commit to self-improvement and growing past your divorce, and your child will as well.
Are you or your ex taking divorce out on your kids? What can you do to turn the tide today? Sound off in the comments section.