Loyalty traps and their potential impact on children

On Behalf of | Jan 14, 2022 | Family law

Children can suffer emotional and mental duress when their parents divorce, which is why parents often make a specific effort to protect their kids as much as possible. One common way North Carolina families do this is by opting to co-parent or share custody, allowing the kids to have a strong relationship with both parents. However, hard feelings between the parents can lead to loyalty traps, a behavior that can be harmful to the kids. 

What is a loyalty trap? 

A loyalty trap occurs when a parent acts in a way that makes the child feel as if he or she must choose loyalty to one parent over the other. Parents may be unaware of the potential consequences of seemingly benign actions, which may include the following: 

  • Asking the children to report back on the actions of the other parent 
  • Telling the children details about the divorce that may not be age appropriate 
  • Encouraging the child to take sides in certain matters 
  • Asking the children to carry messages back and forth, bearing the burden of communication 

These are problematic burdens to place on children, and over time, they can begin to affect how the child thinks about his or her parent.  

Strong relationships long-term 

Children benefit when allowed to maintain strong relationships with both parents after a divorce. Loyalty traps can be damaging to these critical bonds, causing long-term harm. A North Carolina parent will benefit from keeping the best interests of the children as the main priority, as well as seeking a fair and reasonable custody order.