In law enforcement, we witness relationships at varying points along the emotional spectrum. Unfortunately, a greater number of our job-related encounters involve the worst times in the dissolving of a couples courtship or marital unions. Many times the children are the ones who are the worst affected, and are almost always used by one or both parents as a weapon against the other. Whether it is withholding visitations, not paying support, or using the child as a spy to gather intelligence on the other, these are considered as using the child as a weapon against the other in hopes of causing pain. Guess who actually absorbs the most pain, the child(ren).
Why would anyone want to place a child in the middle of a divorce or dissolving of a relationship? It is a gross manipulation of a child’s psychology. It is also a form of abuse. Whether it is intentional or not, placing the child in the middle of your relationship woes causes them to have to decide who they want to side with. No child should ever be faced with having to choose which parent to love, or which one they should support during the split. They are children and should be left out of adult conditions unless they come to you with questions. At that point, curiosity is building and they want to be included.
Complete exclusion can almost be as bad. If a child is inquiring and not receiving communication, honest unbiased communications, they are left to their own imagination; and that can be dangerous. Blame shifting begins. Children will almost always feel to blame in parental splitting, if not included in some form of healthy dialogue to explain what is taking place. When you take on the responsibility of becoming a parent, you take on the responsibility to protect them, even from your own shortcomings sometimes.
Granted, I am not a psychologist nor a relationship expert. I do, however, have an ability to observe these conditions from a unique perspective. We see the events in real time. We are in the homes, parking lots, ball fields, etc., trying our best to keep peace and civility from devouring the children that are innocent bystanders of domestic meltdowns. It is certainly sad to see a relationship come apart, but far worse to know children are involved in this tumultuous time in your life.
Do yourself and your children a major favor. Do your best to keep your tempestuous behavior away from your children. Find a way to later include them in the family matters, but in a calm and healthy manner. Don’t allow your children to become weapons of domestic warfare; they are worth way more than that and deserve better.
This is just an opinion from one career law enforcement officer. It is in no way meant to indicate every relationship that parts ways drags their children into the stormy mess of divorces. There have been many couples who get it right. Unfortunately, we see far too many cases of the negative side of these matters. Life is tough, but don’t make it tougher for the children.
James Fansler is Lake Placid police chief. He can be reached at email@example.com .