This is Life, Based on a True Story  

Using kids as divorce pawns

Some parents need to grow up and smarten up.

I was told about a couple who had separated — badly — and they share custody of their two pre-teen children.

In an effort to be the “better parent,” both mom and dad have been going to extreme efforts to win the kids over.

Birthdays and Christmases have been over the top at each home with the kids being showered with presents and parties.

Both parents are adamant that they don’t bad-mouth the other in front of their kids, but instead vent their frustrations to friends.

In all fairness, the parents are doing what they think is best for the kids and trying to ensure the kids know they are immensely loved by both of them, despite the marital breakdown.

While the two parents often struggle to keep their bitter feelings toward the other to themselves, they both agree on keeping the kids far away from it. Which is why I was angered when I heard about their latest issue.

The mom wants to take the kids to a friend’s wedding in the United States. She would be travelling with both kids, her current boyfriend and his children.

The problem is the dad refuses to sign for their younger child to get a passport. The older child already has a passport, so that’s not a problem. But the mom wants to take both kids.

Dad is refusing because he says he’s not sure the kids will be safe being that far away from home. The funny thing is that the kids have actually travelled a further distance already with the mom — just within Canada, so a passport wasn’t required.

I’m told the dad is jealous he’s not the one taking the kids on this trip, so he’s making it difficult. Apparently, he had planned a similar trip just a year prior, but was unable to follow through.

The mom and her boyfriend have travelled together a number of times with all their kids with nary a complaint from the dad. So the mom is understandably frustrated by the dad’s refusal to allow one of the kids to go … and why just one.

It doesn’t make sense.

This has led to yelling matches and threats by each parent to not let the other see the kids. What was starting to become a reasonably managed, post-separation relationship is now completely obliterated by this sudden change in attitude.

This whole situation just makes me irritated. Parents need to start loving their kids more than they hate their ex.

In an effort to “get back” at their ex or “punish” them for long past wrong-doings, the only people who are being hurt in these scenarios are the kids stuck in the middle.

Why should the child have to miss out on a fabulous trip because one parent is jealous they’re not the one going?

The child doesn’t understand the background story behind it – nor do they care. They only know they’re being prevented from going on a fabulous trip.

When a parent is blinded by jealousy or anger – be it over a new partner of their ex, trips or material things – they tend to lose sight of the child’s best interests by trying to justify the reasons for their actions.

And let’s face it, some of these reasons can be pretty convincing and parents have a duty to look out for their kids when the kids are too young to do so for themselves.

But pettiness is not in favour of the child’s interests – it’s just an attempt to hurt the other parent in the worst way possible – through the child.

So I go back to what I say in the beginning – some parents need to grow up. The separation and divorce is between you and your ex – not the children.

Put the effort you’d spend on making your ex miserable into making your kids happy. That will be a far bigger payoff for them in the end – and for you too.

Thanks for reading.


Comments are pre-moderated to ensure they meet our guidelines. Approval times will vary. Keep it civil, and stay on topic. If you see an inappropriate comment, please use the ‘flag’ feature. Comments are the opinions of the comment writer, not of Castanet. Comments remain open for one day after a story is published and are closed on weekends. Visit Castanet’s Forums to start or join a discussion about this story.

More This is Life, Based on a True Story articles

About the Author

Tanya Gunderson has been writing for the heck of it for many years. Her inspiration comes from her kids, their friends and the craziness of life. She takes great pleasure in exposing life for what it really is and has an open-book approach to her writing.

Her formal education and background include a blink-and-you miss-it stint in the radio and television industry, but it gave her an opportunity to write professionally on a few different occasions.

Email: [email protected]



The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

Previous Stories