Why shouldn’t parents use children as messengers?

On Behalf of | Feb 9, 2024 | Divorce

Divorce is a challenging process for all involved, often particularly for children who are caught amid their parents’ separation. An essential aspect of safeguarding children’s emotional well-being during and after a divorce is to ensure they aren’t used as messengers between their parents.

Using children as messengers places an unnecessary burden on them, often causing confusion, anxiety and stress. They may feel caught in the middle by having to choose sides or betray one parent by communicating messages from the other.

Emotional impacts

The emotional well-being of children during and after a divorce is fragile. Using them as messengers can exacerbate feelings of insecurity and abandonment. They may perceive the divorce as their fault or feel they are being used as pawns in parental disputes. This can lead to self-esteem, trust and emotional stability issues, affecting their ability to form healthy relationships in the future.

Communication breakdowns

Relaying messages through children also increases the risk of miscommunication. Children may not accurately convey messages between parents because they misunderstand the information or because the emotional burden affects their communication ability. This can lead to further conflicts and misunderstandings between parents, complicating co-parenting efforts and potentially leading to more tension and hostility in the family dynamic.

Long-term relationship damage

Using children as messengers can damage the long-term relationship between the child and both parents. It places an unfair responsibility on the child to maintain communication, which can lead to resentment and withdrawal. Children may feel less able to turn to their parents for support and guidance, leading to a breakdown in trust and communication within the family unit.

Communication guidelines should be built into a family’s parenting plan so both adults know what’s expected. Other terms should also be included, so discussing every aspect of child custody to get things set up properly is wise.