Could Your Ex be Turning Your Child Against You?
You hate to think that someone would do something like manipulate or pressure your child to reject you.. Today’s guest blogger talks about ways children can manipulated by the other parent and how you can work through the manipulation and maintain a healthy relationship with your children.
Children are manipulated in three ways:
First, is with money. If one parent is much more affluent than the other, that parent may buy the child expensive gifts or take expensive vacations, in order to lessen the influence on the other parent.
The second manner of manipulation is by suggesting in devious ways, that the other parent does not love the child.
The third manner of manipulation is through direct attacks on the character or decisions of the parent. As a result, over time, the child, unable to handle the barrage of criticism against the other parent, may either begin to doubt his love for his parent OR just become too exhausted physically and emotionally to stand up to the abusive parent and may simply agree, to keep the peace.
To overcome manipulation, here are the basic rules of response: NEVER say anything negative about the other parent AND never compare yourself to the other parent, by saying that you can do something better than your ex-spouse. Children love their parents equally and you cannot change it. What a parent can do, however, is give the child a very positive home life, so that the child wants to see you.
Now let’s talk about money. My ex-husband is a doctor and I am a teacher; he makes 10 times more than I make. Hard to compete against it. So if your ex gives your kids something you could never afford, BE GLAD! Show excitement! Let them share their experience of getting the new gadget. If a car, go for a ride with them. If a toy, play with it. And compliment your ex-spouse for buying it for them. (YEP: you read correctly.) “I am really happy that your daddy could get the new Lego set for you. I know it is something you wanted….Now tell me all about it!!!”
Money isn’t everything, not even to a kid….because kids get tired of gadgets. Ultimately what children of divorce really want is time with a parent who is truly interested in their lives and provides a normal, stable, and consistent home life. Examples: helping your kids with homework daily, even high schoolers. Eating dinner together and really listening, without lecturing/criticizing them. Being silly together every week. Building Legos or playing ball outside or choosing the right shade of lipstick for the prom….And remembering…. NEVER saying anything negative about your ex-spouse.
Another way that a parent manipulates children is by trying to undermine the relationship the child has with the other parent. Some common ways are constant criticism of the other parent’s decision-making and attacks on the parent’s character. Then suggesting that if the other parent is not good at something, it means the parent does not love his/her child….. “If you father/mother REALLY loved you, then he/she would not….give you a freezer dinner, forget to go to your school play, etc.” Followed by: “I always give you a dinner made from scratch, I never forget to attend your school functions…” So by criticizing and demeaning your ex-spouse, then you are cutting off lines of communication with your child, because he or she will never talk to you, particularly if a genuine problem arises. If you truly believe your child has been has been neglected or is in danger, then call the police, CPS or talk to your lawyer. But don’t use your kids as spies.
Good luck! Be positive!
Written By: Bonnie A., La Frontera: Life on the Border
About the Author:
Bonnie A. has been working with kids since Junior High. She has been a part-time sixth grade math teacher, tutor, and volunteer in schools and her church. When she divorced seven years ago, she realized the only way she could save her children was to always have a positive attitude with her ex-husband…at least when the kids were around!