Kevin had developed a sophisticated way of dealing with his parents divorce, but the experiences of Adam and the other children in the group were more common. Adam, age 8, joined the fray and added a new dimension to this already fascinating conversation with the following, “Mom always asks me about Dad after I’ve been to his house and then gets angry if she hears that he is going on a trip or has a new car. Then she’s angry at me.” This definitely resonated with the group as many children clearly felt caught in the middle by questions answered truthfully that then backfired on them. A number of children were confused that their mothers were so angry when they got back from Dad’s–and got the message that they should not have fun there. If you are reading this Mom and see yourself, re-read Chapter Three until you can be a reasonably upbeat Mom. You sure can’t change anyone’s parenting, but your own (my old song). You can control how you treat your child in regard to not putting them in the middle. Remember your child is only caught in the middle if you both pull on him. When you stop pulling, it is no longer a tug of war.
When communication between divorced parents never improves over the years and children become teenagers, you often see one child become the go between for parents. There is no family vote to elect this person, but it evolves gradually and usually the most diplomatic child, the kind who listens to everyone, gets the role. As a mother, try very hard to prevent this from happening by not allowing your child to be put in this position. It creates a burden on teenagers and young adults that may carry numerous expectations without much chance of success. Their role evolves from message carrier about school or visitation to the peace-maker for a sibling and parent who don’t communicate well. Encourage your children to each take responsibility for their own relationships and not put that responsibility on anyone else. Every family has that very kind mediator, do not use or abuse them.
It became painfully obvious in this session that many children, especially Amy, Kevin, Ginny, and Adam had become the victims of their parents’ unresolved marital issues, now manifested as “parenting issues” not “couple issues.” The best way to prevent this is to go back to the basics, assume your “mother-in charge” role and let your children be children, well- protected, secure and loved.
This is an excerpt from “You’re It! Successful Single Mothering after Divorce.” Chapter Four, part two
Article by Jeanne L. Ward