A child’s life is full of decisions. Do they order apple pie or chocolate cake? Do they do their homework now, or go out to play and do it on the bus to school? Most of these decisions do not have significant consequences. They are not polar opposites. However, when a child’s parents divorce, they may feel they have to choose between one parent or the other.

When you are stuck in the middle of two contrasting choices, it can be uncomfortable. No decision is more difficult for a child than choosing between mom or dad. As parents, you do need to avoid putting them in this situation.

Why do children feel they need to choose between parents in a divorce?

You do not need to verbally ask your child to choose for them to feel they must. Sometimes, you can give them this impression by how you, as parents, behave:

  • Arguing in front of your child: When your child sees you and your spouse being uncompromising, they may forget there is a middle ground.
  • Talking badly about the other parent in front of your child: Be careful when discussing your divorce with friends or family. Your child may be sitting on the stairs outside, listening to every word.
  • Making your children feel guilty about spending time with the other parent: Telling your children how much you hate the time when they’re with their other parent can make them feel like they have to choose.

It’s important to keep your child’s perspective in mind as you go through your divorce. That can set the tone for a better co-parenting agreement and a more workable custody agreement. Divorce will be tough on your children. The more security you give them, the better they will cope.