By Tiffany Williams-Jallow
If you’re like most people, you can’t walk on water and your divorce did not end peacefully with you and your ex remaining friends. There was probably some yelling, screaming, trash can or pillow throwing and/or car kicking that took place while you and your former spouse went through the divorce process, especially if you were not the initiator. As a result you may have harbored or still might be harboring ill feelings towards your ex which has inadvertently or maybe purposely manifested itself into using your child as a pawn as a way to get revenge against your former spouse.
Likewise, using kids as pawns has to do with what’s missing in your life as a parent after the spouse who used to be your best friend is gone. To recreate the best friend relationship they had with their ex, parents begin to use their child as a confidant and start to disclose how they feel about their former spouse to their child, usually harping on their former partner’s negative qualities. This sort of behavior is retaliatory and extremely damaging to children. You’d be better off to talk to a wall than to your child about why you’re angry or just can’t bring yourself to forgive your ex spouse or partner. Using your kids as emotional sounding boards is not responsible. You should only be sharing information that is going to help them or nurture them. Furthermore, the child’s age should determine level or quality of information you need to disclose to them about why your relationship with the child’s parent didn’t work and the role their other parent played in it’s demise. It isn’t necessary to say you hired a private investigator to follow the child’s other parent and the hotel your ex and his lover checked into while you were married regardless of the child’s age. Spilling your guts to a child about how horrible their mom or dad is not a long term solution for dealing with your emotional pain after a divorce. Turning a child against the other parent and defaming their other parent’s character can drive a child away because the child will grow up and understand that in very few cases is one person all bad and the other person is all good. The truth is in almost all cases both parents love and want to be with the child. Thus if you drive a wedge between your child and the other parent it’s going to backfire.
Although it doesn’t always happen intentionally, altering the tone of what a parent said, exaggerating what they said, lying about what they said or all out brainwashing is a dangerous parenting technique. Often such behavior has to deal with the offending parent not dealing with the fact their marriage is over or if they initiated the divorce are seeking revenge against their spouse who they are still angry with. Children don’t know what is right and what is wrong, they just absorb what their parents tell them because they trust their parents, especially if the parent who is retaliating says the same negative things over and over such as, “She’s lazy,” “He’s never on time,” or “He drinks too much.”
Thus, don’t blame your child when they repeat what the other person said about you. leave the child out of it because they can’t do anything about their other parent’s feelings and behavior. Likewise, if the offending parent continues their retaliatory behavior, sit them down and explain to them they need to stop for the good of the child. As more and more as people do their own divorces and skip getting professional help from lawyers, mediators and counselors, so to has the number of parents using kids as pawns. However, if you and your former spouse can’t seem to get along seek help from a family therapist post divorce in order to create a better situation for you your ex spouse and children to work through issues that crop up after divorce that lead to vengeful behavior. If therapy doesn’t work, seek help from a lawyer or judge to create a parenting or visitation plan. However, don’t get too attached to this parenting plan as things evolve over time and it might be necessary to alter it. In all cases, aim to create a plan that is best for the child. For more information about this topic, listen to http://www.blogtalkradio.com/relationships360/2011/09/23/stop-using-your-kids-as-pawns. Also, get a free copy of Divorce Magazine by entering your name and email address at www.relationships360.com..