Home Page . Services / Contact Information . Parenting Articles . Separation/Divorce Articles . Video Clips . Links
A strength-guided, goal-oriented approach to the positive growth and
development of people and services.
Back to Separation/Divorce Articles
You may open and print this article as a one-pager
for handouts or use in a newsletter:
A Child Away From The Other Parent Can Backfire
Marriages can fail for many reasons. When they do, people can be seen on a spectrum from minimal conflict to high conflict as they sort out the task of untangling their lives to resume independent living. Where children are involved, living can only ever be semi-independent as the needs of the children will forever keep the couple united. As the level of conflict and animosity increases between the parents the thought of being tied through the children is too much for some people to bear. As such, some parents will seek to exclude or diminish the role of the other parent in the lives of the children. This meets the dual objective of greater freedom from the other parent and punishing the other parent for perceived injustices. Here, one or other parent seeks sole child custody as if that means they can withhold access.
excluding or diminishing the role of the other parent several strategies can be
deployed. These include; undermining access by being away or planning alternate
events for the children; refusing access altogether for frivolous reasons;
telling the child hurtful things about the other parent; planting suggestions to
the child that the other parent may hurt them; making allegations that the other
parent is incompetent or even harmful, in the absence of real evidence.
who use such strategies actually increase the degree of parental conflict and
increase the likelihood of Court action as the parent whose relationship with
the child has been limited, turns to the Court to seek a remedy. At times and
ironically, the parent who is attempting to undermine the other parentís
relationship tries to use the Court action as evidence that the parent is
spiteful and malicious.
such actions, the children always lose and eventually so too does the vengeful
the vengeful parent may think their child can suffice with them alone, the
social science research is clear that children develop best and enjoy a
healthier psycho-socio outcome as adults when they have secure relationships to
both parents. Children who are taught to cut themselves off from a parent are at
greater risk of using similar strategies for managing their own adult intimate
relationships and thus are at greater risk of failed adult relationships too.
most children, either through Court action or when as teenagers they seek out
the alternate parent, do get to know the avenged parent. When their experience
of the avenged parent conflicts with what they were told about them, in other
words, when a parent who was supposedly bad, turns out to be good, the children
then turn on the parent who had originally undermined the relationship. Children
who eventually establish relationships with parents they were kept from without
good cause, feel resentful for having been misled. They come to reject the
parent who sought to keep the children for themselves.
adults, these children forgo the relationship with the parent who raised them in
favour of the parent who was kept away. As the vengeful parent plans for the
demise of the other parentís relationship in the short term, in the long term
these parents not only hurt their children, but also themselves. They come to
lose their children when they get older.
are advised to understand that it is every childís birthright to have
reasonable relationship with both parents, assuming freedom from harm and
appropriate care and supervision. Any parent who seeks to disrupt a childís
relationship with the other parent may ultimately hurt the child and undermine
their own chances for a life-long relationship.
issue is not withholding a child from a parent, but structuring the situation
to provide for childrenís safety and well-being. If there is truly an issue
with a parentís behaviour, demand they seek help to address the problem yet
facilitate access through a place of safety. If the issues with the other parent
have more to do with oneís own upset or anger, then seek counseling to manage
feelings in view of the childís needs to have reasonable relationships with
donít act in a manner that ultimately hurts your child and places your
relationship at risk when your child grows up and learns the truth. It would be
a shame for all involved for that to happen.
Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
For information on Direnfeld's book, Raising Kids Without Raising Cane, click here.
20 Suter Crescent, Dundas, ON, Canada L9H 6R5 Tel: (905) 628-4847 Email: email@example.com