Divorce is difficult on everyone, including the children. While parents often seek to protect their children from the woes of divorce, the reality is that the dissolution of marriage is a change to everyone’s world. Therefore, it is imperative that parents in Indiana and elsewhere consider what can be done to reduce the challenges faced by a child of divorce.
No child wants to feel trapped between their parents. Additionally, a child does not want to feel like a pawn piece used by one or both parents. Therefore, it is important for divorcing or divorced parents to understand what this could look like and how to address it. With regards to loyalty traps there are four to consider. Each of them could either be consciously assumed by a child or are roles they are unintentionally put into by a parent.
The first loyalty trap is when a child is used as a spy. This could begin by simply asking a child what they did when they were with the parent followed by other questions, such as whom they saw, where they went and what they experienced. While this could simply be a way of checking in on a child that may be placed in an environment concern, this line of questioning could be a means to get information about an ex’s dating or social life through their child.
The next loyalty trap is the messenger. This often looks like one parent asking the child to tell something specific to the other parent. While asking a child to remind the other parent about something regarding school, exchanges or something previously discussed, it can be very problematic if a parent asks a child to communicate something new to the other parent, especially when it involves a legal issues like child support or parenting time.
The third trap is turning a child into a confidante, which often inappropriately treats the child like an adult. Telling a child why the divorce occurred and sharing very detailed information can create a problem for the child.
The final loyalty trap is turning a child into an ally. While it is not wrong to want children to support their parents, this becomes a problem when it means turning a child against one parent.
Addressing these traps
If a divorcing or divorced parent believes that the other parent is using loyalty traps, it is important that they take action. This not only helps address the legal issues that may be occurring, but it can also address any harm that could be caused by a child involved in the situation.