While every divorce doesn’t end amicably, children are not an emotional outlet or sounding board for comfort. Their minds are beyond impressionable and still developing, making it critical in what you share with them.
What happens now, impacts them for a lifetime.
Your parenting is POWERFUL! It determines how your children approach life, the types of relationships they will have with others, and even how they will parent years from now...passing down generational values.
Your children pick up on your daily habits. From how you take care of yourself to the way you listen and respond to their needs, and even how you interact with others. They are watching you like a hawk and learning how to be independent through every move you make.
If you are currently experiencing discord with your ex and your children are caught in the middle, then we ask you to read this carefully.
Here Is What Happens When Children Are Put In The Middle:
1. They Think All Relationships Are Conflictual
What you model through your parenting style becomes your children’s perspective on how they view their own personal relationships. For instance, if you show your children that it's okay to experience conflict and talk through it peacefully, then they will identify this to be a normal interaction in a relationship.
On the contrary, if you have volatile screaming matches with your ex in front of the children, they will assume it’s okay to raise their voice to others. Your children are more likely to adopt this aggressive style of communication when approaching conflict. Or, they may become completely uncomfortable around conflict and shut down avoiding it altogether.
Neither communication style is healthy when overcoming differences with your ex-spouse. This will often result in your children struggling to have healthy adult relationships as they mimic everything you do. They will find themselves in toxic relationship patterns that do not evolve unless they restructure their belief system.
Your choice of words impacts whether or not your children will develop healthy relationships skills years to come. One’s parenting style affects how they view relationships as a whole. And, given our relationships are the very core to how we land our careers, how we make friends, how we find love, it is the most fundamental skill you can teach your child right from home.
2. They Blame Themselves For The Divorce
Children in high conflictual divorce cases often don’t understand the dynamic between their parents nor the root of the discord. They feel completely lost and stuck in the middle of a battlefield of adult issues. And, because children lack the ability to fully grasp a deep understanding of why their parents are divorcing, they look no further than themselves to blame.
They tell themselves thoughts like “It’s my fault my parents are divorcing. They are always arguing about me” or “If only I wasn’t born, maybe my parents would still be together.” The weight of your problems can heavily impact their self-esteem, shattering it into a million pieces.
It can take years to rebuild one’s shattered self-esteem. Not to mention, what a child with a lack of self-worth will endure throughout their lifetime. They will believe everyone is better than them, they are a complete failure, they aren’t worthy of love, or find themselves in circumstances where they are not respected and valued. They will have lost their strength to
confidently face life’s ups and downs.
Don’t be the reason your child takes the blame and shatter their success before it even begins.
3. They Feel A Lack Of Safety And Stability
It is already stressful enough for a child to have to manage their school work and go through the various developmental phases of growing. But, when their parents divorce a lot more can get added to their plate before they are mature even to face it.
Keeping track of going back and forth between two homes and celebrating holidays on different days doesn’t have to be stressful if you and your co-parent are on the same team. Children thrive when they have the safety and stability of who is picking them up from school, whose weekend it is, and who is dropping them off at Saturday activities.
When there is a lack of structure, this is when children can start to get off track. A clear parenting agreement can prevent this from occurring by outlining a clear schedule for the children’s lives. Without a schedule, children may fail in school, increase poor behavior for attention, and even regress developmentally.
When you give your child a safe haven to come home to they will trust you to be there for them and develop at their intended growth rate.
4. They Think They Are A Financial Burden
When you divorced your ex-spouse, a huge part of the split was spent on dividing up the finances and determining child support. Whether you are the one paying or receiving, raising your children has now become a financial discussion.
If you and your ex are in constant debate of who is paying for what and how come you haven’t received your monthly support in front of the children, then the children will begin to think they are a financial burden. This will begin to weigh on their mind and they may even opt out of their extracurricular activities just to avoid being a stressor between you and your ex. Or, money may even become a place of tension in their adult relationships, affecting their ability to financially create a healthy budget.
While you are now operating on a parental agreement to best raise your children, its best to ensure your business discussions aren’t in front of the children.
5.They Feel Stuck If They Are Suppose To Side With One Parent
The anger and frustration of co-parenting with your ex may boil your blood internally, but bad-mouthing your ex in front of the children as a gesture to get them to favor you is only working against you in the end. Not only is this an act of parent alienation, but a disservice to educating your children how to navigate discord effectively.
If you find your ex is dragging your name through the mud in hopes of getting the children on their side, I recommend seeking a co-parenting coach immediately to work through it. Children should never be placed in the position to choose one parent over the other. They have the right to have a relationship with each biological parent, as this has the greatest impact on their success in life.
In the end, children will make their own conclusions on their personal relationships with each parent based on their interactions with that parent when under their care. It’s in your favor to make the time you spend with your children positive, not wasted on convincing your children your ex is a bad parent.
Bottom line, keep parenting struggles away from your children if you want them to grow up as healthy individuals. While they may not have a choice in who their parents are, you have a choice in how you parent them.