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Therapy & Counseling Blog, Sylvia S. Roan

Your Gift to Your Child – Not putting him/her in the Middle of conflicts

Many parents have put their child in the middle of their conflicts without knowing that they were hurting the child unintentionally. For instance, when you were boiling emotionally at your spouse’s or ex-spouse’s  words or actions, you vented to your child about how wrong s/he was and how irresponsible s/he was. Out of your frustration in the daily challenges as a single parent, you may tell your child to carry a message to their dad or mom . Or you may say something like,”Ask your dad to pay for this filed trip. I don’t have money. He has money and he is simply not willing to spend on you.”.  What do you think your child felt when you or your ex told your child things that s/he had no control with?

One of the worst nightmare for a child is when parents engaged in a custody fight, one parent or both may do anything to make the visit time a battle field.  Asking a child to take side or to show sole loyalty or to make the other parent feel unwanted is the lowest of all as a parent.  Spare your child from your bitterness to each other, please.

Another common mistake is while one parent disciplines a child,  the other one defends the child. In this case, your child is put in the middle of your conflict with each other. This kind of inconsistency is one of the worst when it comes to raising a child together. Sometimes, children are put in the middle by grandparents, or aunts or uncles.  The saddest thing is when adults can’t get along and drag the children into the conflict or want the child to choose sides and show loyalty to you. If you are one of these parens, please stop doing so, for the sake of love.  Your child will be relieved when you stop engaging in this unhealthy vicious cycle.

Parents, be aware when you argue in front of your child, when you blame each  other for whatever reason, you are creating a bigger problem for the child and for your relationship. Your child will learn to manipulate between mom and dad to get what s/he wants. Your child learns to argue and to disrespect from your example.

What are your recurrent arguments about? Why do you argue with each other? Is it about spending ? Is it about lack of trust for each other? Is it about disciplining your child?  Is it about your in-laws? What ever the problems is, it is important to seek help through couple or family therapy to find a new way to communicate with each other and to your child. Children and Teenagers living in a unhappy family atmosphere tend to be angry, defiant , and depressed.  No one feels good living in a negative family. No child feels good being put in the middle of the parental conflicts. So, spare your child from your conflicts!

Sylvia Roan