I’ve been following the recent news story about the 12 year old boy whose divorced parents are vigorously fighting over whether or not he will be circumcised. Dad, says yes: Mom says no. They’re relying on attorneys and the courts to decide.

What a sad state of affairs! How would you like to be that boy? – tossed back and forth between his biological parents fighting over a life decision this powerful and incredibly sensitive. The worst is he can’t possibly decide for himself and feel good about it, because his parents won’t let him.

Years ago I worked in a residential treatment center for emotionally and behaviorally disturbed children. Before my very eyes, I witnessed vulnerable children being torn in half by their angry parents. I saw beautiful, smart, happy children emotionally deteriorate because of the pressure of being caught in the middle of their parents’ fights. It broke my heart to see kids in horrible no-win situations over which they had no control.

This recent story once again pushed my buttons. It’s a perfect example of what I always tell divorced biological parents, “Don’t put your helpless, defenseless children in the middle of your ongoing battles! The more intense your divorce conflicts are, the more you jeopardize your children developmentally and socially.” These children are at high risk for depression, anger and anxiety in their lives as a result.

The paradox is that while these parents love their children and want the best for them, they would better demonstrate their love by burying the hatchet over the failed marriage and cooperate in coparenting their kids. That’s what kids need and want!!

So the next time you want to rail on your ex, think about the effect on the children.

Is it worth it?

Susan Wisdom LPC
January 2008

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