We noticed a recent, powerful blog article from CLI-TX member (and former CLI-TX board member) Linda Solomon on her website, about the assignment that some children of divorcing and divorced parents unwittingly assume — becoming a messenger for his or her parents.
Here’s the particular excerpt that caught our attention:
Recently, I worked with a Mom who was concerned about information she was learning from Sam, her four year-old son. She reported the divorce has been final for three years and was concerned about the lack of communication with her former spouse.
When I asked her to give me an example, she told me she recently learned from San that he is going to Legoland with his Dad in August. It was clear that she was surprised by the information. As I asked her to tell me more about their parenting communication, she stated, “We don’t talk much. Our son tells me quite a bit about what is happening with his Dad.” I learned something similar from Dad.
I took a breath. I was imagining what it must be like for Sam. His job description appears to be that of Mommy and Daddy’s Messenger. I know, for sure, he didn’t apply for that job and probably doesn’t want it.
The article went on to have the parents imagine how their child might be reacting to being a go-between for parents who are obviously in some level of conflict with each other, and how the child might wonder how these messages are impacting each of the parents. Linda noted, regarding her post:
I learned from Sam’s parents that they chose the litigation process for their divorce and did not work with anyone to establish positive co-parenting communication skills during their process. It reminded me that whenever I work with couples, in the collaborative process, we begin their discussions about the children by reading The Children’s Bill of Rights. The last item in The Children’s Bill of Rights is reminding parents not to use their children as messengers. In our work together during a collaborative divorce, parents have many opportunities to learn how to communicate with one another despite many strong marital emotions that may be occurring at the same time. I always tell them their children would want to “thank them” for learning the skills to do this during a divorce process. I also remind them this is clearly something to continue post-divorce. It will “lift” some of heaviness from the shoulders of their children.
The entire article (worth reading, for sure) is available here.