“I am Doing it For The Kids.” – But is That The Right Path?
So often we hear that people are choosing to stay in a bad relationship “for the kids.” We know that contentious divorce harms children greatly. I see parents who are not handling their divorce with respect making the same mistakes. I do not believe that any parent wants to harm their children. However, I see parents in the pain of an angry divorce justifying all sorts of behaviors that DO harm children. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Children are not appropriate emotional confidants. Even if they are great listeners, even if they are “mature for their age,” stop overloading them with adult problems and robbing them of their childhoods. Children should NEVER have to choose sides in your divorce. Having to choose between two people you love is traumatic. Listening to your parents say terrible things about each other is traumatic.
- Children are not equipped to figure things out without proper guidance from adults. Often they don’t “know better” (as in “you ought to know better than that!”) because they have never been taught.
- Children are not supposed to figure out how to take care of themselves and other children and they deserve a childhood free from the responsibility of being caretakers and being forced to make adult decisions. Being the emotionally mature child and not having a parent to turn to is traumatic.
- Giving children too much responsibility creates people pleasers and over achievers who don’t know how to relax and be present for themselves. Not knowing how to be in a healthy relationship because of what you witnessed is traumatic.