Make no mistake about it. It’s not a good idea to coach your kids when you’re getting divorced. And, no – this recommendation has nothing to do with helping out with your child’s baseball or soccer team. In fact, that type of coaching can only strengthen your parental bond.
It’s inevitable in some cases. Perhaps it’s the mom who feels devastated because her husband stepped out on her. Of course, it’s always possible that it’s the other way around. Claims of infidelity aren’t really gender-specific.
Truth be told, fault matters little when it comes to coaching children in a divorce. Meanwhile, child manipulation never really works out for anyone – particularly not the sons or daughters caught in the middle.
For one, turning a child against the other parent has a name. Parental alienation syndrome represents a real diagnosis. Not surprisingly, the courts express displeasure at mothers and fathers who engage in the process.
More than one judge has picked up the less than subtle attempts of a parent attempting to coach a child to be on his or her side. Anything adverse to a child’s best interests can easily impact custody and parenting time decisions.
What It Means to Coach Your Kids
In the meantime, there’s a chance you’re not even aware that you’re coaching your kids. It may be something you do without any malice. In fact, you might consider your actions the least bit manipulative.
One divorced mother recalled the time she asked her young daughter if her father touched her inappropriately. Apparently, she knew her husband himself had experienced sexual abuse and was concerned that he would continue the pattern.
Surely, seeking to protect a child is understandable if your suspicions are warranted. However, another mom took a different approach. She instructed her daughter to create a fictional event so that the court would find her ex an unfit father. As you can imagine, this type of manipulation can only create prospective problems for all involved.
Coaching a child to express preferences as far as where they want to live also ends up putting them in difficult situations. A shocked father picked up his teary-eyed son for scheduled parenting time. The young boy came out to the car, purportedly with all of his belongings packed in a black garbage bag.
The father determined that the child’s mother told him he needed to make choices as far as spending time with his parents. The significance of the garbage bag was impactful. The boy felt like the mother viewed him and his things as trash that required disposal.
Some Helpful Tips
All things considered, you might want to think of your child as your ally as you go through this challenging period of your life. However, you shouldn’t put your son or daughter in that position. In fact, you need to choose an adult friend or family member as your confidante and advocate. See a therapist if you can’t find anyone else.
Your child may want the details of your divorce. You don’t need to provide them with any information unless it pertains to parenting time arrangements. Resist the temptation to insert negative comments.
Don’t expect your child to keep your secrets. It places an unnecessary burden on them. For that matter, don’t ask questions about your former spouse’s personal life.
When it comes down to it, children already suffer losses when their family life goes through an upheaval. Do your best to be their parent and help them through the process.
If you’re going through a divorce, you need an experienced family law attorney to advocate for you. The Law Offices of Sam Stoia offers both a compassionate and practical approach to helping clients through the process. Contact us to schedule an appointment.