Effects of using children as messengers

On Behalf of | Jun 27, 2024 | Child Custody

People who are going through a divorce likely don’t want to have to continue communicating with their ex when the divorce is finalized, but communication is likely going to remain necessary if they share children.

Partially due to how uncomfortable it can be to communicate with an ex, some parents fall into the habit of having their children pass messages back and forth; however, that’s not a good idea. Using children as messengers can lead to significant issues. Understanding some of the impacts of using children as messengers can help parents to avoid making that mistake.

Emotional impacts on children

Children who are used as messengers may feel as though they’re caught in the middle of their parents’ issues. This can lead to stress and confusion, especially if they feel like they have to choose sides in the matter. Some children may not know how to relay how they feel when they’re experiencing this, so it starts to affect their overall well-being and may have a negative impact on their relationship with their parents.

Communication challenges

Misunderstandings and miscommunications are possible when children are left to relay messages. They may not say things in the correct manner, which can lead to disagreements between the parents. There’s also a chance that the children will end up having to experience reactions that weren’t meant for them, especially if the message they’re relaying isn’t a good one.

Psychological consequences

Children may begin to dread being asked to pass messages between their parents. This can lead to issues, such as anxiety, behavior changes or depression. They may not feel as secure and stable as they would without having to be a messenger. Over time, the children might begin to blame themselves for the conflicts their parents are having because they’re being placed in the middle of all of them. interactions, and future relationships.

Communication expectations for co-parents should be covered in a family’s parenting plan. Details should include the expectations for how information will be relayed, such as texts, phone calls, emails or app messages. Conflict resolution methods might also be good inclusions, as even the most well-meaning co-parents are going to disagree from time to time.