5 ways divorced parents weaponize their children

On Behalf of | Jan 26, 2024 | Divorce

When parents divorce, their top priority should always be their children. Most of the time, that’s exactly how it works. 

Unfortunately, some parents – especially parents who are narcissistic or emotionally abusive – are perfectly willing to “weaponize” the children against their co-parents.

What does the weaponization of the children look like?

Reasonably amicable co-parents can sometimes make mistakes in their interactions with the children and each other. However, you should be concerned that the children are being weaponized against you if you see a pattern of the following:

  1. Manipulative communications: Subtle (or not-so-subtle), negative comments by one parent about the other in the presence of the children can create a lasting impression and damage how the children see the targeted parent. Parents may also use their children as messengers so that they can manipulate the other parent emotionally or financially.
  2. Alienation tactics: One parent may attempt to influence the children to resent or reject the other parent. This may involve blaming the targeted parent for the family’s breakup or other hardships the family experiences or portraying the targeted parent as unstable or dangerous.
  3. False allegations: A parent who is particularly determined to separate the children from their other parent may actually make allegations about child abuse or neglect. False allegations can be incredibly damaging to the targeted parent’s personal and professional reputation.
  4. Undermining a co-parent’s authority: Sometimes one parent will purposefully undo their co-parent’s decisions or disciplinary actions to be the “good” or “cool” parent to the children. This can end up breeding resentment and hostility between the children and the targeted parent.
  5. Disneyland parenting: This occurs when a non-custodial parent sweeps in for visitation with piles of presents and lots of fun things to do – then ducks out whenever there’s any actual parenting “work,” like coping with their daily schedules, school issues and health concerns. That portrays the custodial parent in a negative light and turns parenting into a competition for the child’s affection and loyalty.

You have to take steps to protect your children and your relationship with your children after a divorce. Sometimes, that means engaging in custody disputes or reevaluating a parenting plan to set some new ground rules. It can help to get a legal opinion on your situation so that you know more about your options.

At The Law Firm of Poppe & Associates, PLLC, our focus is relentless advocacy for our clients. If you or someone you know is struggling with a custody issue, reach out to schedule a consultation at 646-665-3903 or by contacting us online.

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Mia Poppe, Esq.

Mia Poppe, Esq.
Managing Partner