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Ways parents can make their kids feel they have to choose sides

On Behalf of | Feb 8, 2024 | Custody & Visitation |

Divorce can be hard on all family members, especially children. Amid emotional turmoil, parents may unintentionally place their children in the difficult position of feeling they have to choose sides.

Recognizing and avoiding such unintentional pressure can foster a healthy and supportive environment for children.

Communication breakdowns

One common pitfall is a breakdown in communication between parents. When parents only communicate through their children, it can inadvertently force kids to act as messengers or go-betweens. This places an undue burden on them and makes them feel like they have to pick sides to avoid disappointing one parent or the other.

Negative expressions of emotions

Children are perceptive, and they can easily pick up on negative emotions one parent expresses about the other. Snide remarks, eye-rolls or dismissive comments can subtly influence children’s opinions. Parents should be mindful of their expressions of frustration or anger.

Inconsistent expectations

Different parenting styles can also create a sense of pressure on children. When parents have inconsistent expectations or rules, kids may feel torn between conflicting sets of guidelines. This can lead them to believe that siding with one parent is a necessary response to maintain consistency and avoid confusion.

Overburdening with adult concerns

Sharing too much information about the divorce or financial issues can overwhelm children. Discussing adult concerns or involving them in discussions beyond their understanding can make kids feel pressure to take sides.

Excessive comparisons

Parents sometimes unintentionally compare themselves, highlighting their strengths and pointing out each other’s flaws. This can create an environment where children feel the need to reinforce a parent’s beliefs, adding an unnecessary layer of stress and division.

Emotional awareness can help create a supportive environment that minimizes the impact of divorce on children.