What To Do If Your Ex Is Using Your Child As a Pawn Against You?

Child Used As a Pawn
Moment Open/Jose A. Bernat Bacete/Getty Images

I opened my email this morning to find this question from a reader. “If I have proof that my ex is using my child as a pawn against me what should I do?

Dealing recently with a situation in which my ex has manipulated not only my child but a situation involving my child I can only reply with what I felt was best for me to do in such a situation.

I think it is important that as parents we refuse to play the game some angry ex spouses seem hell bent to play.

I also know that as parents our first instinct is to fight for our children and fight fire with fire.

If you stop and think about it, fighting fire with fire only puts our children in the middle and makes them victims of a dispute between their parents.

When it comes to my son there is one thing I know for sure, he has been victimized enough. His father went five and one-half years with no contact with him. He was given ample opportunity to have a relationship with his son. I have emails I wrote him encouraging a relationship, my mother called him on two occasions and pleaded with him to give the boy some of his time.

On top of that there were four different therapists over the years that offered to work with him in a counseling setting to help rebuild his relationship with both his sons. He chose to stand back, do nothing and accuse me of parental alienation.

Now that he has his son in his life again he is withholding information from me.

He is making decisions about our son’s health that are damaging to our son and obstructing my ability to communicate with our son per a court order.

There was an incident recently and my first reaction was to hire an attorney, file a motion with the courts and do whatever I could to get my son back home and away from this person who I feel does not have my son’s best interest in mind.

After talking to an attorney and writing a big check I came home and started thinking. I put my emotions to the side and put some thought into what another legal battle with his father would mean for our son. Someone who didn’t want to go live with his father in the first place.

Over the last five months my son has been forced into a situation he didn’t want to be in. He had to adjust to a new home and environment. He was pulled out of the school he had gone to for years and would have graduated from this year. He was pulled away from friends and family who had been a part of his life and comfort zone since the day he was born.

After thinking about it, I realized my son has been through enough. He has settled in with his father, is now back on his medication and the last thing he needs is more upheaval in his life and the stress of knowing his parents are battling each other legally.

When we see an ex doing something we feel is damaging to a child we need to be able to take a step back and put thought into what striking out at an ex will do to that child. Unless a child is in immediate danger of abuse and you fear for their safety my advice is to consider your child’s needs first and not your need to make an example of an ex spouse.

I could have taken my ex to court and won. In the end, my son would have been the loser and I’'m not willing to put him in that position just so I can win against my ex. I will continue to show my son that I love him, that he has a place to come if he ever wants to come home again.

You see, I know this much, …children grow up, they become wiser and in the end they see clearly how their parents used them. The one thing I don’t ever want my son to be able to say to himself was that I used him against his father.

At times, life puts us in the middle of situations that call for patience and the use of good common sense. If you are in such a situation with a child and an angry ex, just sit back and wait. Don’t play the game and your child will one day realize who had their best interest in mind all along.

Update: Four months after this article was written my son turned eighteen. Shortly after that, he came home to me, his friends and the home he had known for ten years. He has attempted to communicate with his father but, his father doesn't respond to emails or cell phone messages.