Children can feel pulled in many directions when their parent’s relationship ends badly and a custody battle ensue. Parents must pick up the pieces and establish a working relationship with the other parent in their child’s best interest. Unfortunately, this isn’t always what happens. Too often parents allow their anger and bitterness over a broken relationship to interfere with each others ability to be a parent to their children. It’s difficult to separate your emotions about the other parent as a partner and that of a parent. The truth is you don’t have to be a good partner to be a good parent. Realizing this makes all the difference to the lives of your children.
The problem is that many times one or both parents feel that being tied together through children is just too much to bear. They convince themselves that they will be enough of a parent to their children and removing or limiting the access of the other parent is for the best. They justify this by seeing it as a valid punishment for the other parent for their perceived injustices. In the absence of real evidence the parent tries to find incompetence in every small and insignificant statement and action, they over-dramatize past actions and words in an effort to feel that they are doing what is right.
Children suffer from breakups because they are torn and trapped between their parents. In their minds any wrong move could cost them their parents love and acceptance. They second guess everything they say and don’t say. This is why it is so important to know and understand the signs to insure you aren’t unknowingly falling into a pattern of emotionally abusing your children. It takes a toll that can affect your children long into adulthood.
Some Common and Subtle Signs of Hostile Aggressive Parenting
• Allowing the children to decide if they will visit the other parent.
• Refusing to allow your children control over taking their personal possessions to the other parents home.
• Making false allegations or insinuations of sexual abuse, drug and alcohol use or other illegal activities by the other parent.
• Setting up temptations that interfere with visitation.
• Giving the children the impression that having a good time on a visit or staying overnight will hurt your feelings.
• Rescuing the children from the other parent when there is no actual danger or threat.
• Asking your children to keep secrets from the other parent.
• Interrogating your children upon their return from a visit.
• Refusing to give the other parent lists of the children’s extracurricular activities, school changes and events, medical information and insurance cards.
• Refusing to notify and request the other parent’s assistance with the children when you are unavailable or leaving town, using a third party instead.
• Are unwilling to participate in any reasonable form of written communication.
• Will state that you cannot alter the parenting schedule because it is not officially approved through the courts.
• Will be uncooperative and unfair when figuring out summer and holiday schedules.
• Fails to involve the other parent in daycare and school choices.
• Pretends the child is too sick for visitations.
• Creates difficulty when arranging time for special occasions.
• Insisting that the children be returned precisely on time while not respecting these same rules yourself.
• Unwilling to make arrangements when situations arise which reasonably warrant some flexibility.
• Unwilling to consider any kind of fair and equal parenting arrangement for the children.
• Unwilling inform the other parent of upcoming school activities, events or holidays when the children’s regular schedule may not be applicable.
• Making false claims of parental conflict, while doing nothing to reduce such conflict.
• Alleging that the non-custodial parent is the reason for the child’s behavioral issues while with the custodial parent or vice versa.
According to social worker and Canadian court expert, Gary Direnfeld, these actions increase the need for court interference. Research has proven that these tactics actually backfire on the offending parent. As children get older and come to realize that the other parent isn’t the bad guy and see that there was no real reason for keeping them away from their parent they come to resent the other. The offending parent can ultimately undermine their own chances for a life-long relationship with their children.
Ultimately the children will get to know both parents and make their own decisions regarding time spent with each one; often times pulling away from the offending parent. They may choose to move in with the other parent or even completely stop communication with the offending parent. No one wants this to happen. It is in the best interest of the children to have an ongoing relationship with both parents.
Feeling that any of the above are justifiable is normal and human, actually doing them however, is not going to get you what you want in the long term. When a relationship ends it is important to acknowledge these feelings and seek help if you are doing any of them or are seriously considering them. Is it really worth the price if years from now your children see that you only did those things out of anger and they decide to turn their backs on you?