3 Ways to Mess Up a Child During Divorce

According to Rosalind Sedacca, author of Embracing a Child-Centered Divorce: Because You Love Your Children and founder of Child-Centered Divorce Network, it is all-too-common for parents to throw their children into the middle of a divorce. The results can be devastating as a child develops.

Sedacca outlines a handful of parental behaviors that can send children into a tailspin:

1. Sharing too much about the divorce with your child. Children often become the confidant of one or both parents. This tends to cause them to become confused, frustrated, and guilt-ridden. These emotions can easily follow them into adulthood and deeply affect their future relations with others.

2. Inspiring your child to help you “fix” the situation and your life. Carrying a parent’s burdens is a weight that a child shouldn’t carry. Instead, as the parent it is essential you try your best to be strong in their presence and look for strength from adult friends, family, or a certified counselor. Bogging a child’s mind down with family drama robs them of the time they should be free to play and enjoy life.

3. Forcing your child to take sides. Children caught in the middle of two angry parents don’t tend to fare well as adults. Sedacca asserts that when children are forced to take sides, they often resort to telling white lies to keep the peace. This learned behavior can easily follow the youngster into his or her adult life.  To protect your child, dare to rise above the need to be the “favorite” or “better” parent and seek ways to create a positive environment for everyone involved.

Sedacca recommends creating what she calls a “child-centered divorce,” in which you rise above the turmoil of your divorce and work to co-parent in a way that makes your child “feel more secure, stable, loved, protected, and supported.”

Finally, Sedacca asks a powerful question in her Huffington Post editorial, “Do you want your divorce to rob your children of their right to enjoy their childhood?” Whenever you are met with a moment of insanity, this question is very important to ask.

Sedacca ends by suggesting that parents make every effort to “communicate mindfully and responsibly” about a divorce and family issues. A peaceful home environment is the best springboard for a healthy child — who will have a greater chance of one day become a healthy and thriving adult.