Children Innocent victims of Separation.*
Separation or divorce should not end a parent’s involvement and responsibility towards their children, but should be viewed as a start of a new commitment to the well-being children.
An unfortunate truism is that children are often the innocent victims of separation/divorce, often because of parents neglecting the needs children, using the children to their own advantage, or as a tool for punishing their spouse.
Children do not need or deserve to be used this way. Whilst parents can decide to go to battle against each other, they should be careful not to knowingly or unknowingly enlist children as their soldiers, as too often it is the soldiers who suffer the greater and long lasting injury.
Parents whom have separated must place the needs of their children of paramount importance. The emotional well-being of children can be protected if parents remember that children have a right to:
- Love and be loved by both parents.
- Be able to enjoy both parents without being made to feel guilty or that there is a competition between the parents.
- To feel proud of both parents and be able to respect them. This includes not allowing your anger to spill over to the children in degrading your spouse in anyway.
- To see their parents behave towards each other with mutual courtesy consideration and respect. Separated parents do not cease to be role models, and children need to learn that even people with differences can act with courtesy and respect.
- Not to have their loyalty to both parents questioned or tested. Statements that one parent loves the child more than the other puts pressure on the children to take sides.
- Not to be used as spies or messengers. Using children as messengers or as a spy to report on the other parent serves only to foster devious behaviour in children and does nothing to foster communication channels.
- Children often do not understand the reasons why the parents no longer wish to live together, and often feel that they may somehow have contributed to the breakup, particularly young children who live in a world of part fantasy. Children should always be reminded that they were not the cause of the break-up.
Counselling should be considered essential in any dispute involving children or where children are becoming either directly or indirectly involved in their parent’s dispute.
*(published in Inner Western Courier)