Don't Put the Kids in the Middle
with Maud Purcell
Is it OK to throw in little zingers about the other parent? You may have gotten away with that when you were married, but it takes on a whole new meaning when you’re divorced. When one parent is on a campaign to destroy the other parent, it creates untold damage to the kids. Think about it: they are a creation of both of you and they want to believe that they have two wonderful parents despite the divorce.
Don’t be fooled: Kids know what’s going on and it doesn’t really need to be said. They may test you by throwing the other parent under the bus. Don’t take the bait. Encourage everyone to speak well of each other. You don’t have to lie or make things up, but you can say, “I’m sure mom didn’t intend for that…” or, “Your dad has your best interest at heart…”
Preserving the other parents reputation is so much better long term for the kids.
Some parents will use the kids as bargaining chips. You know this is a bad idea. You’re asking your children to choose one of you. How can they possibly choose? If your kids are older (post 13) you may want to give them more choice, but they need to spend time with each of you. If they don’t want to go because there is a new romance or instability in the other household that can be damaging, that’s a different issue that you should take to your attorney.
When people talk about divorce being bad for kids, it’s really this ongoing undermining that does the damage. Divorce in itself can be productive if handled the right way and you treat each other with respect.