When you are navigating your way through the tricky terrain of a divorce, sometimes the easiest path will be a tempting one to take. That path can sometimes lead to mistakes that inadvertently affect the kids, though.
One common mistake that parents make during a divorce is expecting their kids to act as messengers and convey messages or deliver checks to the other parent. However, that's a potentially big misstep that can have numerous negative consequences. Here are reasons why you should never allow your kids to act as messengers during a divorce.
Reason #1: Kids Are Likely to Feel Burdened by This Responsibility
Having to deliver important checks to you or your ex can seem like a daunting responsibility for kids who may worry incessantly about misplacing them. The same is true for important messages. Even asking kids to convey something simple to your ex can seem daunting for little ones. Avoid placing this burden on your children by simply working directly with your ex to effectively co-parent your kids.
Reason #2: Misunderstandings Can Easily Happen and Escalate
Whether your children are accidentally conveying the wrong messages or acting out from the pressure of being a messenger, it's easy for misunderstandings to happen when your kids are acting as a go-between for you and your ex. Misunderstandings about something as simple as what the kids have for dinner can easily escalate when you aren't communicating directly with your ex.
Reason #3: Children May Feel at Fault for Negative Communication
When you are relying on your children to convey a negative warning or simply a less-than-positive message to your ex, they may feel guilty and responsible for the message. They may feel that they are being asked to choose between their parents and take on a lot of guilt for whatever choice they make. It's best to keep your children from hearing the negative communication between you and your ex.
Reason #4: You Need to Take Full Responsibility for Co-Parenting
It's hard to take full responsibility for co-parenting with your ex if you are avoiding contact and communication. Like it or not, when you share children with your ex, you will be in the person's life at least until the kids are grown. Using your kids as messengers would allow you to minimize contact, but you need to have that open communication in order to effectively co-parent together.
Finally, keep in mind that it's never okay to ask kids to deliver verbal messages, written notes, checks, or anything else to the other parent. Simply find a way to do it yourself or send it via an actual paid messenger. Whatever you do, don't allow your kids to be a go-between, or they may start to feel even more torn between you and your ex than they naturally do in a divorce.
By safeguarding their feelings about this issue, you can empower them to better handle the difficulties that inevitably come up in any situation where parents get divorced. If in doubt, talk to a firm like Bray & Johnson Law Firm about ways that you can communicate with your ex while ensuring your child never feels like a messenger.