Children are NOT a Weapon to Use

Divorce and separation can send a family into turmoil that undermine our best parenting intentions. Parents become locked into power struggles on many levels, especially if the break up is complicated and messy. The rivalry between both parents has consequences for any child, of any age. Both parents need to be conscious of this from the outset to minimise the effect.

Children get caught in the middle and find it difficult to choose which parent to listen to, especially if there is abusive confrontation between them.  Children love them both, even if there is a stronger connection with one; the love is still there for the other.

Parents need to remember that whichever person leaves the family home to a child it is an ending and a time of uncertainty. There will be feelings of loss and grief; the family will be feeling the impact of a loss, even if the divorce or separation is a mutual agreement.

Parents who are in this constant turmoil and confrontation take away rationality and can become obsessed with hurting the ex-partner. The anger confuses perception and they become lost in the fog of hurt, anger, rage and feelings of loss. They become so engulfed in the raw emotions that children can become possessions that they must keep and have on side.

Things to remember and NEVER do when there is a separation or divorce.

Many parents who are engulfed by toxic anger withhold access or visitations rights of younger children. They distance themselves or bribe older children to encourage the child to stay with them. They use the child as a way to hurt the ex-partner or place guilt on the child, so they come home. They will sit in the background and lead conversations over the telephone putting pressure on the child.

Children are not weapons to be used as a way of hurting an ex-partner.

Affection is given conditionally if the child sides with them and there are rewards with this. Quality time is exchanged for fun things or materialistic items that the child wants to entice them on side.  It is a buying of affection though guilt or competition. Promising whatever the child wants if they stay with them or say something bad to or about the ex-partner.  What parents teach their children by doing this is how to manipulate and play people off on each other.

NEVER withhold affection from a child if they decide to spend time with an ex-partner

Parents can blame ex-partners for causing the break up. Also blame the children for their contribution to arguments that occurred. Looking at their own contribution is too difficult or incomprehensible, blinded by the fog of emotions; children bear the brunt of this. All memories of bad conflicts that seem to have erupted from something a child did will be brought up and used to get the child to conform and feel guilty.

The separation or divorce in NOT the Childs fault

Children are not weapons to use against each other in divorce and separation. The way that parents handle themselves during the transition will impact the children whatever age they are. NEVER use a child as a way to hurt anyone; they deserve respect and nurturing not abuse.

Even if parents are escaping domestic abuse there are still lots of opportunities unless the court forbids it to have access, supervised visitation rights and a relationship with both parents, even if it is over the telephone or Skype.

Until the child is old enough to make up their own minds about contact DO NOT use them as a weapon, they will become wounded for life. Scars that are left from turbulent relationship break ups will reopen in adult years manifesting in how they communicate with their own partners and children.

Credit: © Beata Wawrzyniuk |