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When the parents are in conflict and the child is in the middle

When the parents are in conflict and the child is in the middle


An article by Andreea Biji
Psychologist Organization Save the Children Romania


Motto:
"Where am I from? I am from my childhood. I am from my childhood as from a country! All the big people were children first (but few of them remember)", Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Although they themselves were children at one point, many adults seem to have forgotten how powerless children are, but how real and powerful a child's feelings are. From an adult's point of view, we are often tempted to assume that small people have small feelings, to the extent, and this is certainly wrong.
Often, parents do not understand how much their children are affected by the tensions in their relationship or those created by other crises that the family goes through. Again, suppose that young people are not affected by emotional events in the family to the same extent as adults. Nothing but the truth.
What happens to a child in the midst of a parent conflict?
To cope with a conflict situation, some children learn to mask their feelings. In some cases, to avoid disapproval of the parents, they take, in turn, the part of each of them in the presence of the other. When with the mother, for example, the child may put his father in a negative light in order to gain the mother's approval and to decrease the tension in relation to her.
This also happens in the presence of the father, this time with reference to the mother. This strategy, unfortunately, intensifies the tension between parents, and they feel even more justified in being in conflict with this new "ammunition" provided by the child.
What many children lack in the family is the "voice". They do not always know how to express their feelings or needs and, therefore, often express them inappropriately. Although this type of expression is not the most effective way of communicating, often not being understood by adults, parents should not forget that any manifestation of the child, be it "good" or "bad" is an attempt to communication.
The consequences of the sufferings felt by the child during conflicts between parents can take the form of school difficulties, anxiety, depression, aggression, victimization or physical accusations - headache or stomach pain.
What happens to parents?
Due to the misunderstandings between parents, they become guilty of each other's manifestations. The obstacle that prevents the exit from the conflict is the fact that each parent maintains, in relation to the other, a position of defense against any insinuation related to the contribution of his behavior to the child's manifestations.
Whatever the reasons for a conflict, separation or divorce, beyond their own lives, parents need to understand their responsibility to minimize the impact on children and make this major change in the child's life easier to overcome.
What is the secret for the battle to end? It is enough for one parent to give up this conflicting position.
What messages is important to receive the child from parents in such situations?
• "As your parents, we respect each other" - children feel good when their parents involved in a conflict or even divorce treat each other with respect, in a civilized way.
• "Your habits remain the same" - children feel safe when there is a routine: going to bed at the same time, for example, regardless of where their parents are.
• "We both remain your parents and we behave as such: we protect you, we support you, we love you and we will remain in your life" - the children develop harmoniously within a safety relationship built by both parents.