Here are some of the subtle but common ways in which parents can take advantage of their children without realising what they are doing so:
Using your children as messengers between the two of you teaches children that adults cannot talk honestly or directly to each other. Remember that you children learn from you and are likely to repeat the behaviour that they see in you. This might mean that in later life that they are unable to talk with other people in their lives in an open and honest way.
Instead you could arrange a mutually agreeable way of sending messages to one another (phone call, note, text or speaking face to face) to make arrangements yourselves.
Asking a child to report on the other parent is destructive – it is using a child for your own ends. It can also lead to a child lying to cover for the other parent.
Anger stemming from separation between parents can have a destructive effect on children. Name calling the other parent “Your Dad’s a fool” or “Your Mam is useless” can be hurtful for children to hear.
When visits with parents are used just to give the child a good time, or outings and gifts take the place of normal parenting. Parent can often use bribery as a way to gain favour with their children ‘You can go to your dads if you like … but we are going on a picnic’. Children deserve to enjoy their time with either parent without feeling guilty or feeling that they are missing out.
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