Kids in the Middle
“He makes me so angry”! “She is so unreasonable- no wonder we got divorced”! A good guess is that as a divorced parent you have made these statements – statements made in a tense situation involving visitation, custody or shared holidays. You divorced as a result of not being able to communicate, compromise, get along, and now, a divorce decree forces you to do all of these for your children.
Your children who are “caught in the middle”. These confrontations leading to such statements are emotionally painful for your children. It is very typical for children to have the hope that their parents will get together again, return to the family composition that “was” before the divorce. They have loyalties to both parents.
Our responsibility is to assure them that, although, dad or mom will not be returning to the home, mom and dad still love them. If we criticize, bad mouth, put down our former partner in front of our children (children conceived with both parents), we are very likely to impact their ability to have healthy intimate relationships as they get older.
How can you trust in love when your parents who once loved each other are now so spiteful, angry with each other? No matter how the marriage ended, badly, quietly, with animosity, you owe it to your children, to their future, to let them know they were conceived in love, and will always be loved, even though, mom and dad have fallen out of love.
- Criticize your former spouse in front of your children- tell your friend, tell your co-worker or a neighbor, but refrain from expressing, “your dad is a loser” to your children.
- Don’t name call: “she is a tramp, a liar”.
- Don’t ask your children to agree with you in “putting down” the other parent- “isn’t your dad a jerk for not coming to your soccer game”?
- Always assure your children, that even if mom and dad are no longer in love- they will always be loved by both parents.
- Listen and don’t be “snide” when little Susie tells you about the “neat” restaurant dad took her to. Be glad he is spending time with her.
- Do remember the good times, cherished times that you once had as a family. And, there is always something worth remembering, and your children need to know that.
Written by: Patricia Bubash, www.successfulsecondmarriages.com