A common mistake parents make in a separation or divorce is involving their children in any dispute they may be having. To make sure you are keeping your children out of any conflict, do not:
- Put your children in a position of choosing sides.
- Speak badly about or blame the other parent in front of your children.
- Ask your children to keep secrets from or spy on the other parent.
- Have arguments or sensitive discussions with your ex-partner in front of the children.
- Expect your children to be a messenger between the two of you.
- Use children as a way to punish the other parent by restricting contact.
- Use the transfer of children as an opportunity to deliver documents.
Remember, the problems between you and the other parent must be dealt with by the two of you directly. Listen to your children when they work up the courage to tell you that they don't want to get involved. Also, when struggling with an issue surrounding the separation or divorce, it can help to mentally take a step back and consider whether you are putting your children in the middle of the dispute.
The Teen Guide's Caught in the Middle and Getting Unstuck in the Kids' Guide offer advice to children about what they can do if they are stuck in the middle of their parents' conflict. Parents will also benefit by reading through this material to become aware of how kids feel in this situation.