let your child enjoy childhood
a divorce is often harder on a child than it is on the parents and that makes it doubly unfair to expect your child to be your emotional crutch.
Too often, parents rely on their kids to help them through a divorce. Some teens, especially, take strain, as they feel responsible for cheering up their parents after divorce. A young teenaged girl recently told me that she has to be there for her mother who is sad, and that she has to keep telling her mother that she loves her to cheer her up.
It is sad that a fourteen year-old girl feels responsible for her mother. The mother may not have voiced these expectations to her daughter, but the daughter feels responsible, and that's bad enough. I believe this issue stems from parents treating their kids as peer friends, rather than offspring.
By laying complex adult problems on kids, they are placed in a situation where they have have to act as a sounding board and dispense the appropriate support. Let's be honest, most adults out there are not equipped to do that... and in an impressionable child, it creates a treacherous tightrope. A child should not be expected to listen to complaints and frustrations about their other parent.
Divorcing Adults Need Appropriate Support Systems
One of the reasons why adults turn to their kids for divorce support, is because they have not built appropriate support systems of their own. Rather than laying emotional baggage on a child, it would be better to turn to adult friends and family, co-workers or other people who have been divorced.
A child, no matter how wise and gifted, does not fully comprehend the issues accompanying divorce: break-ups, finances, infidelity... She does not yet have any life experience that can be valuable in this situation. The only helpful thing that can come out of this, is that you have someone with whom you can share your emotional load. But a child is not strong enough to do so.
A child should not be exposed to the hurt and grievances you feel towards your ex. The sordid details of your divorce should stay between you and your ex-partner. It's not your job to point out every negative trait of their other parent to them. Remember, your child is a beautiful and perfect blend of you and their other parent. By judging and complaining about the other parent, you are sending the message that half of your child is bad.
This type of behaviour falls within the ambit of parental alienation, which is classified as a form of child abuse. Don't give your child a load of new baggage by expecting her to unpack yours.
Many adults refer to their children as their best friend. It can be great for an adult child to have such a close bond with their parent, but when a child is still a developing minor, it causes confusion and a conflict of interest. Every growing minor needs an authority figure who can take charge, something a BFF can't do without inflicting confusion.
Disclaimer : This article provides basic information only and is not a substitute for a professional or legal advice. It is prudent to obtain legal advice from a family lawyer.