Power Step Parenting: Understand Your Child’s Loyalty Conflicts

Understanding loyalty conflicts and striving to alleviate your child’s excessive loyalty concerns are important to your child’s emotional well-being after divorce. KEEP YOUR CHILD FROM BEING IN AN EMOTIONAL TUG-OF-WAR.

Parents implicitly ask their children to “choose” and therefore, put children in a no-win tug-of-war when they

  • badmouth the other parent or household
  • comment or compare living conditions
  • invade the other home’s time with the kids with constant text messages, phone calls, or showing up at a private family activities
  • cast blame on the other household for financial pressures or emotional pain
  • ask for the child’s time when it takes time away from the other parent
  • coax the child into not visiting his/her other parent until child support payments are made or custody time is renegotiated. (FYI, CHILD SUPPORT AND VISITATION ARE TWO SEPARATE ISSUES. CHILDREN SHOULD NOT FALL VICTIM TO THESE CIRCUMSTANCES)
  • Make children feel guilty for enjoying the people in the other home
  • refuse to listen to their happy stories of life in the other home

All of these situations teach children to take their emotions underground and train them to play the game of “Keep everyone happy by making them think I love them the most.”

Children who internalize this tug-of-war become depressed, discouraged, self-destructive, and unmotivated. It can also cause anger, oppositional behavior, and possibly violence.

Don’t let your wounded heart influence you to elicit or demand your child’s allegiance. They already love you! Children lose when they are made the caretakers of a wounded parent’s heart.

The message is ” I can’t stand for you to love him/her and care for them take care of me by not honoring him.

How can I change if I have put my child in a tug-of-war situation:

  • Acknowledge to your children your improper reliance on them. Communicate your desire to better in the future.
  • Make a list of ways you have inadvertently burdened your children, Plan an impropriate response
  • Affirm your children for who they are, not how they care for you.
  • Look to God for strength and healing. (See Exodus 15:26)
  • Shy away from dating relationships that fill your emptiness.

Remember, if you create excessive loyalty conflicts for your children, you will hurt and cause more damage.