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Making children pawns in child custody issues may cause harm

Following a divorce, some parents may find it easy to be cordial to their former spouses, especially when dealing with issues pertaining to the children. Children are quick to sense hostility between the two people they love most, and some of the hurtful tactics a parent may use to avoid communicating with the co-parent place the children in an uncomfortable position. However, child custody arrangements often require communication, and parents may be causing undue stress and harm to their children by using them as messengers to avoid their ex-spouses.

Nebraska parents may take the easy way out and simply send a message to their co-parent through the child. Even a simple message about a school event or a homework assignment may be a source of contention if the child forgets to deliver it or gets the details wrong. If this miscommunication leads to a fight between the parents, the child is likely to blame him or herself.

In some cases, a parent may send a message through the child that the child knows will upset the other parent. Older children may begin to resent this role and seek ways to escape the stress in which it places them. They may also refuse to relay the message. Child experts say parents should not get angry at a child who acts out or refuses to be a messenger. The better solution is to seek professional help to learn how to communicate with a co-parent.

Those in Nebraska who have a difficult time communicating with a co-parent may also find themselves in conflict over child custody decisions, even those set forth in a court order. Discussing these issues with an attorney may provide options for dealing with the disputes civilly. In the event that cooperation is not possible, an attorney will represent the interests of a parent who seeks modification of a court order.

Source: Mission Viejo, CA Patch, "Children Are Not Mailboxes: Divorced Parents Must Communicate With Each Other", Susan C. Schena, June 27, 2017

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