Recently I came upon a blog post by “Jennifer” who rightfully complained that parents or separated or divorced partners will frequently use children as pawns in their covert wars with one another.  She wrote:

Some parents get blinded by their own emotions and stuff going on in their lives that they fail to see the affects, hurt and damage caused by their actions. One of such examples is a parent who use and manipulate their children to get their own way against the other parent.

In my opinion, anyone who uses innocent children in that way is a coward.

So what do you do if you find yourself in the position of having your partner or your ex use and manipulate your children to get back at you or get their own way?

Well, first and foremost be clear and acknowledge that this has nothing to do with your child (children) and that it is you that your partner or ex is really attempting to get back at or hurt in some way. Also, be clear that your son/daughter is NOT responsible for being used in this way.

Jennifer is right on about how damaging it is to abuse children in this way.  However, she makes two assumptions frequently made by individuals overly steeped in traditional psychology frameworks.  First, she assumes that the warring parties are “blinded” by their emotions (i.e. aren’t really aware of what they’re doing); and second, she holds the opinion that people do these things out of cowardice (i.e. out of fear to more openly and directly reveal their agendas). 


While such assumptions can be to some extent true when dealing with neurotic parents or ex-partners, if either or both parties is character disturbed, they know full well what they’re doing, they simply don’t care enough to restrain themselves because all that matters to them is that they have their way.  Further, if character disturbance is involved, these kinds of actions aren’t the result of cowardice but rather the steely determination to have one’s way, regardless of the cost and the recognition of the fact that one of the easiest ways to thwart resistance from your partner is to cloak your self-serving agenda under the guise of serving the interest of the child. 


Jennifer’s advice, however, is well stated.  Children should know that they are not responsible for the dynamics that fuel wars between their parents.  Their parents must own their own issues and not use their children as pawns in their war games.  You can view her entire post at:


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One Response to Using Children to Hurt an Ex

  1. Jan
    Jan 19, 2011

    So what can be done when the courts will not listen, and the children continue to be caught in the middle. Father accusing siblings in the other household of abuse. The other children are beginning to resent my grandaughter. My grandaughter is being manipulated, and is only 5, and this started when she was just a baby and the father and mother split up. The accusations are always unfounded, and never proven of course, but it goes on and on and on and on. The father doesn’t care, I don’t know if he is a delusional person or just mean. Doesn’t matter. What can we do to stop this behavior by the father, which is making life hell for everyone.

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