I hesitated to even join this debate as I do not believe that children should be nor do they have to be collateral damage in a divorce. Unfortunately, however, they all too often are. If both parents work together for the best interest of the children, the children will come out of the divorce relatively unscathed, but this is usually not the case. It only takes one parent using the children as pawns to leave them emotionally damaged. This is one situation where it does not take two to tango.
In a divorce situation, it is easy to lose sight of the best interest of your children, however, most people do wind up seeing the light in the end. It is those rare few that never see the light that ruin it for everybody. Let’s take a situation where a woman wants a divorce from an emotionally abusive spouse. She tells him that she wants a divorce and the war begins. Initially, he starts giving her “loving” gestures, such as sending flowers, watching her shower, etc, that are meant to be loving, but wind up feeling creepy instead. Eventually he realizes that she is actually serious about wanting a divorce, so he moves on to tactics that involve keeping the children from her. He takes them out before she gets home from work and keeps them out until she’s gone to bed. Upon his arrival home, he locks the children in his bedroom with him. She finally gives up even coming home anymore. She stays out shopping, avoiding coming home at all costs. He pushes her until she’s so angry she could spit, and then and only then is she allowed to speak to her children. This man is damaging his children beyond repair.
Once he has the children nearly completely turned against their mother, he starts reporting her for abuse anytime she even makes an attempt at disciplining her children. She tells her daughter that she can’t go to her friend’s house when she’s being disrespectful, and he reports her for abuse. She tells her sons to eat healthy and save their appetites for dinner, he tells the court that she’s starving them to death. She moves to a new city because she wants to live in a better place, he won’t let her see the children, and he accuses her of abandonment. No matter what she does, he spins it so that he can prove to the children how much she doesn’t love them. If she has no car to get to one of their events, she doesn’t love them. If she cannot pay for an expensive extra-curricular activity, she doesn’t love them. If she doesn’t cry on the phone when she says she can’t do these things, she doesn’t care.
This is the kind of parent that causes children to be collateral damage in divorce cases. He is the one that doesn’t care about the children’s well-being, because he is so willing to separate the children from a parent who loves them. He uses them as spies, then accuses her of doing the same. This is when divorce really hurts children, and it should be stopped as soon as someone sees it.