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Don't use children as spies after divorce

View profile for Christopher Myles
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This is very good advice for parents who have divorced. If you would like advice on children arrangements or divorce, please contact a member of our trusted and caring Family law team.
 
Following divorce it's tempting to turn your children into "spies". Don't go there! 
When children are told to report on the activities of the other parent, it places the children in a no-win situation. Even worse, using your children as spies has other negative consequences. It promotes lying and deceit. Encouraging spying promotes picking sides. It also creates loyalty conflicts for your children. As a result, children may clam up, become untruthful, or untrustworthy.
 
It can be difficult to break the habit of inappropriately questioning your children after they return from time spent with the other parent, but it must be done. A little child-focused thinking should get you there. Think about how it feels for your children to transition from one home to the other. When they return to you, they want to know you're happy to see them and that you're focused on them. 
 
Interrogation does not start your transition time off on a good note, and it makes children very uncomfortable whether they outwardly show it or not. Furthermore, if your children are worried that they'll have to "report" to you, transition time will be awkward for them. Instead of focusing on how your children have already spent their time, focus on how you're going to spend your time with them.
 
Obviously, there are some common-sense exceptions. Real and legitimate safety or health issues fall into that category. But that's not what we are talking about here, we’re talking about when you want to know whether Daddy's new girlfriend went to the zoo with them. Don't make a situation such as this even more complicated for your children. They'll tell you what they want to tell you, and they'll be a whole lot more likely to do so when you don't give them the third degree or send them to purposely spy.
 
Children are smarter than you think. Simple communication designed to surreptitiously interrogate the children is not going to work for long. They will try desperately to exercise their right to remain silent. The reason they will do this is because they know that anything they say can and will generally be used against them - in one way or another! Again, the key is to focus on the life you and your children live together and enjoy every moment of it.
 
This blog is excellent advice by Michael Mastracci, Esq.