Conflict between parents can be very damaging for children, especially if you are fighting about them as this can make them feel responsible for the argument and the break-up. When you criticise your child’s other parent or make sarcastic remarks about them, you put your child in the middle of the conflict and they can feel that a choice has to be made between you.
Although you need to be honest with your child, she/he doesn’t need to know about all of the details of why you are splitting up or about finances; this will only leave them feeling confused and insecure. Try not to ask them to act as a go-between or messenger or ask intrusive questions about what happens in the other household; children can become very resentful if they think that they’re being used in this way; try to communicate as directly as you can with your child’s other parent.
The way you parent can be affected by things like whether you are the leaver or the left, the level of conflict with your child’s other parent, economic changes, how involved you are in legal proceedings and what information or support systems you can access. This can result in you feeling guilty or betrayed, overwhelmed and stressed. You could become desensitized to the impact of separation on your child and also be less available emotionally and physically which can lead to inconsistent parenting. There are lots of hints and tips in this guide that can help you manage the way you parent.
What children don’t need:
- To hear or see their parents complaining about or blaming each other
- To hear criticisms or negative comments about either parent
- Adult information about the reasons for the separation or details about finances including child support
- To feel that they may be asked to choose one parent over the other
- To pass messages from one parent to the other
- To feel uncomfortable in one parent’s home.