‘Kids in the middle’ is a phrase we hear often in the media, family courts and amongst friends and family if they happen to be separating. But what does it really mean to you, now that you are on this journey?
For most couples who separate and for whatever reason, if they have children together, causing emotional damage to those children is usually high on the list of ‘things to avoid’.
However, for many, as emotions run high and disagreements occur, sometimes inadvertently the opposite happens.
Parents may end up using their child/children as:
- Bargaining tools
- Someone on ‘your’ side
Children tell us that they cope well with their parents separating even though in the beginning it’s upsetting, if:
- They get to spend time with each parent
- There is reduced conflict between parents
- Parents don’t criticise each other to or in front of the children
- They can see their parents moving on
- They don’t have the intricate details of the separation
So, understanding what puts children in the middle is important and it may not be quite as obvious as you think.
If you consider that communication is:
- 55% BODY LANGUAGE
- 38% INTONATION
- 7% WORDS
then it is probable that your children are ‘reading’ you much more than you think.
Watch this short video and note the ‘unspoken’ messages.
- Ask yourself as you watch are these children comfortable in the company of their parents?
- Are the parents making it ok for the children to love and be happy with both parents?
- What are the children doing to make this situation ok?
- Are these children in the ‘middle’?
Understanding your emotions and the body language that emerges as a result of this journey is not always high on your list of priorities, especially when there are so many legal and financial aspects of divorce to ‘get your head around’.
However, once the divorce is over from a legal perspective, the rest of your life begins and being able to co-parent your children and reduce the likelihood of emotional damage, I would say is on the list of priorities.
Using the collaborative approach to divorce is one way to help begin this journey. Another is getting as much help and information as you can to ease it.
Together Apart is a one day workshop designed for parents going through separation/divorce and is aimed at parents, just like you. It can help you in practical ways to:
- Reduce conflict
- Improve communication
- Understand the emotional process of relationship breakdown
- Provide you with useful skills to help you manage your emotions
- Help you to understand what your children need from you during this difficult time
Adele Ballantyne MA Relationship Therapy
Family Consultant, Shropshire Collaborative Law Pod.