From the Coparenting Coach's Desk

Coparenting for Better or Worse - Loyalty Conflict for Children

Coparents often pride themselves on the fact that they never say anything negative about the other parent. They reassure themselves and others that they would never put their child in a position where the child has to choose between Mom or Dad.Yet some coparents engage in very destructive behaviors with their children without a second thought when anger, fear, and a desire for revenge take over.

1 Mom gives a gift to the child. Dad throws the gift away.
2 Dad sends child home in new clothes. Mom throws the clothes away.
3 Mom tells Dad that the child can’t have sugar. Dad sends the child home with a bag of candy.
4 Dad tells Mom that he has a family reunion on her weekend and asks to exchange weekends. Mom plans a trip to Disneyland for that weekend.
5 Mom tells Dad the child has a birthday party for a school friend on Dad’s weekend and asks Dad to take the child. Dad tells Mom that she can’t plan things on his time so he isn’t taking the child.
6 Dad gives the child new clothes for Christmas. When child dresses for school and puts on the new clothes, Dad tells the child he can’t wear the clothes because Mom is picking the child up from school.
7 Mom plans a birthday for the child. The child invites his Dad and his Dad’s family. Mom tells the child the party is only for Mom and her family with the child.
8 Dad tells Mom the child has been diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder and Dad says that the child is fine, there is nothing wrong with the child.
9 Mom gives the child diagnosed with ADHD his/her prescribed medication as required. Dad refuses to give the medication.

The ways in which parents put children in loyalty conflict are divisive and disheartening. If you know a parent who does these things, or if you are one of those parents, challenge the status quo. The child suffers when the parent uses the child to work through adult conflicts and problems.

No coparent can control what the other coparent does. Each one of us can only control our own choices when our child is with us. Respond don’t react. Protect your child from the adult conflict. Teach, nurture, and listen to your child. Get support and help for yourself.

If you are hurting your child by engaging in any of these types of behaviors, admit the harm you are doing to your child rather than justifying your anger at the other parent. Do it for your child and do it for yourself.