Loyalty Bind – when children feel they must choose.

A loyalty bind is when a child feels ‘caught in the middle’ of the tension between their parents. They feel uncomfortable loving both of you and this creates a great deal of internal conflict for them. This conflict manifests in ways which harm their development. For example, low self esteem, doing poorly at school, higher risk taking behaviours, or expressed anger, depression or anxiety. 

The following examples may be things you are doing consciously, or subconsciously. These things also make up what are referred to as ‘alienating’ behaviours.  Make a list of how many you may be doing. 

When you consider that list, what impact do you think this has on your children?

  • I make negative comments about the other parent.
  • I use negative body language or tone when referring to my child’s other parent.
  • I allow relatives or friends to make negative comments when my child can overhear.
  • I ignore my child’s presence while arguing with the other parent.
  • I discuss the character defects of the other parent when my child can overhear. This includes sharing information that will cause my child to see their other parent in a negative light-telling about an affair or a drug problem, for example(even if it is true, truth is not the issue, good parenting is).
  • I stress to my children how much I miss them when they are with their other parent.
  • I ask my child questions about the visit with the other parent. I also ask questions about the parent, their relatives or someone my child cares about.
  • I say negative things about someone my child cares about.
  • I discuss child support or money issues with my child.
  • I discuss legal or other adult information with my child.
  • I ask my child to do things that might feel like spying.
  • I ask my child to keep secrets that might feel like spying.
  • I blame the other parent for our divorce or any other circumstances.
  • I refuse to allow the other parent to step into our home. I will not let mychild bring his other parent in our home to see his room or into the backyard to see the new swing set.
  • At our child’s activities, I refuse to sit with the other parent.
  • I refuse to speak to or to make eye contact with the other parent.
  • I refuse to let my child take important items to their other home to show to the other parent.
  • I imply that I am the better parent.
  • I make my child think I am a victim because of the actions of the other parent.
  • I send notes or verbal messages through my child.
  • I make my child feel responsible for my emotional needs. I let my child take care of me.
  • I make my child feel like they are not safe in some way when they are with the other parent.
  • I refuse to let my child sit with their other parent at joint activities when they have come with me to the activity.
  • I block my child’s contact with the other parent (phone calls,time, etc.) or use screening methods to avoid the calls.
  • I remind my child that they can choose to live with me when they reach the legal age.

With thanks to Cooperative Parenting Institute