It can’t be said often enough: involving your children in your family law case, and trying to turn them against the other parent, will have disastrous consequences. Psychotherapist Allan Schwartz explains:
Perhaps the worst case situation is the one in which the divorce takes place, the mother gains custody, the father moves away and a curtain of silence falls between the children and the absent father. While this is less likely to occur today in the age of equally shard custody, it does happen and with tragic consequences for the children. What are these tragic consequences?
First, children identify with each of their parents. If they are made to believe that one parent is evil they will come to believe that this is true of them, as well. How can it not be so? If that is my father or mother and I have been told that he or she is a bad person then it must be true of me as well since I am their child.
Second, it is common for children to misunderstand what is happening between alienated parents and to blame themselves for their troubles. They are also quick to believe that one or both parents are leaving home because he, the child, is not loved. In some cases, a child who witnesses a parent packing and moving may fear that he, the child will be told to leave home forever. Young children, with fragile emotions and dependent upon nurturing and love may pretend that they do not care that the one parent has left and throw themselves even more upon the parent who is present.
For the child who experiences the loss of a parent because that parent has been successfully blocked from participation in the child’s life the consequences are worst. Most frequently but no always the parent who vanishes is the father. The child is left to imagine what became of the missing parent.
In fact, many studies show that divorce can result in children growing into adults who have low self esteem and more depression and anxiety compared to those who were raised by both parents whether the marriage remained intact or there was shared custody.
It is really important that divorcing parents communicate with the children that they are loved by both Mom and Dad and that the divorce is not caused by the children. It is also important to communicate confidence in the other parent and that Mom and Dad just cannot get along together and that these things happen but that they are safe with and loved by each parent.
Divorce is difficult enough for everyone without embroiling the kids in the angry politics of the adults.