Using Children to Hurt an Ex

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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31 thoughts on “Using Children to Hurt an Ex

  1. 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.

  2. What can be done to give father equal rights so mother don’t use children as bargaining tools to get what they want.

    1. I watched my ex drag my 3 year old daughter by the wrist smaking her head off the wall into her apartment. My daughter was crying and screaming because she didn’t want to go. I could have talked my daughter down but wasn’t given a chance.
      I’ve spent 5 years posting different instances like this. The rumours are true. No one cares.
      The moms and dads

      Court case file 216-12 Montreal street kingston Ontario.

  3. Matthew, That’s a common challenge with many, many variables in my experience. Please take a look at/peruse through Dr. Tara Parmatier’s (or Dr.T’s) site deals with these issues as well as many others men commonly face regarding their child(ren) subsequent to the demise of their relationship with their mother. You’ll find a great deal of information there regarding PAS (Parental Alienation Syndrome) and strategies for Dads who are dealing with this situation.
    Women who engage in using their children as Tools for manipulation are engaging in *abuse.* It appears they may be (undxd.) Cluster Bs (Borderline, Narcissistic, Histrionic, Antisocial) Personality Disorders or “High Conflict Personalities” who are able to manipulate the legal system (as well as PAS) to effectively ensure the fathers are no longer (or very minimally) involved in their child(ren)’s lives. A book that comes to mind immediately and which you may find useful is “Divorce Poison” (can’t recall the author, but it’s been frequently recommended) and also offers strategies for counteracting the effects of PAS.
    Good luck and best wishes-I’m sure this is heartbreaking for you and your children.

  4. Its not just mothers doing this my ex has domicile custody and he and his current wife has violatrd every custody order I’ve had and alinated my children from me and the courts won’t do anything they do whatever they want to do and all tjat happens is I spend money trying to resolve the issues and the coirts scold them and that’s all

    1. Brittany, How frustrating and sad. It seems like there is an endless parade of craziness in the legal arena. Like to actually receive justice from the courts of justice is the acceptation to the rule. maybe the book that Tundra Woman recommended to “Mathew” above could be some help to you as well. Good luck to you and please don’t give up.

    2. Sadly the courts and most court appointed experts such as custody evaluators usually make the situation worse. A great site for PA is Dr Craig Childress. Arm yourself with information it will be your best defense.

  5. Does anyone know if they’re are support groups or pro-bono lawyers in PA for moms who are secondary parents due to the child’s father who manipulated the court and received primary. I really need someone to talk to. The pain is unbearable and I’m having a hard time coping, there’ absolutely nothing wrong with me and yet I live without my son cold turkey for two weeks at a time. I even have a protection order against the father of my child and yet he lied and won. Someone give me any information to help me. I have no one and I’m desperate. I pray for better days for me and my beautiful little boy. Email me please God bless

    1. Tia it is heart breaking. There is nothing anyone can say that will make you feel better. I wish I had the words that would. I know first hand the unbearable pain you are experiencing and the feeling of being so alone in it with no place to turn for help. At times I thought I would lose my mind the pain and my lonesomeness in it. Because unless you have lived it you can not comprehend it.
      I believe in Godand so that is where I turned.
      I spent my days in prayer sometimes screaming out to God for relief.
      It has been four years since I have seen my daughter and she has been manipulated to hate and lie about me. She is almost grown (of legal age) now. My pain has dulled and does not affect me 24/7 but every now and then the hurt is intense.
      If you are in a custody battle you must stay as serene as possible. When you are dealing with someone that would want a child to miss out on a normal range parent that loves them you need to be especially calm and serene because that person will use anything they can to hurt you. Proof is that your child was used in this way. You will need your wits about you. You need to survive this in a healthy way for your child do not forget that.

      1. Tia,

        See if you have a Women’s Resource Center close to you. They usually have a legal advocate that may be able to point you in the direction of someone that can help. I wish you the best and God Bless.

      2. This has been horrible and it breaks my heart but reading your post and so many others posts I don’t feel so lost and alone anymore. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences. Xoxo God bless you all. Tewai

    2. Hi tia, the only advice i can give is to make sure you follow court orders regarding visitation at all time because the father will say to let the child chose who he wants to go with at the moment while being manipulated into it. Counciling is another option for you and child and with that being said maybe you can gather info from counciling to show the courts. I learned the hard way but luckily i caught pa on time.

  6. My daughter is mad at me and has now cut me out of her daughters life. I know grandparents have no rights but there has to be something I can do.

    1. Your kids like mine a fucking douchebag. The mother did the same with her now the kid doing it with the grand kids.that saying the apple did not fall far from the tree. now the grandkids are going to be as fucked up as the mother they will take there kids away from her. Can’t wait to see this pay back is a Batch

  7. i need some help i have a 8 year old daughter who’s father i have been in and out of court a lot for so many different things i have keep up the fight because i know my daughter needs me now however he has changed his tactics he is now using his son who is 11 and has had no relationship with up until recently th daughteris has made her feel vary sad and hurt because he is spending all his free time with him mind you my ex never calls nor sends a text to check on her the only time i hear from him is if he wants to yell at me or to demand to see her on his terms not in compliance with the court order anyone been threw this any advice

    1. Always follow courts orders and keep a journal. He might turn around and say you didn’t want the child to see him. Speaking from experience.

    2. I am going through this right now. My ex using our 13 year old daughter afainst me is buying her gifts manipulatibg her making ger chose where to live.

  8. i need some help i have a 8 year old daughter who’s father i have been in and out of court a lot for so many different things i have keep up the fight because i know my daughter needs me now however he has changed his tactics he is now using his son who is 11 and has had no relationship with up until recently this has made her feel vary sad and hurt because he is spending all his free time with him mind you my ex never calls nor sends a text to check on her the only time i hear from him is if he wants to yell at me or to demand to see her on his terms not in compliance with the court order anyone been threw this any advice…… my email was entered incorrectly

    1. michelle,

      It is unfortunate to find oneself in such situation. But, one cannot control everything and get good partner, or children who have strong character to deal with vengeful parent who doesn’t mind using children as tool for selfish reasons.
      What you do control is your own behavior. You can be strong yourself and be role model to your kids. Since, your daughter is suffering directly and she is currently ignored by your ex, then best will be to take her to a therapist who can guide her through tough times.
      There are more blogs here that cover this topic. Browse few more, you may get some more answers.

        1. Hi michelle,

          I looked around a bit, but could not find many blogs right now.
          One I found: “Questions about Manipulators: How Do I Protect My Children?”

          I will post the direct link in next post. I think post containing links are moderated, and that moderation is sometime done too late and by that time everyone has moved on.

          If you like, you can go to sitemap and browse through the categories. There used to be a browsing option which listed all blogs by dates, but I cannot find it any longer. There are hardly 200-300 blogs, so one could have easily found the one they are looking for. Try searching using keywords.

          In case you need help to get better understanding of your situation, I will suggest you read book “In Sheep’s Clothing” first. And, then go deeper if that appealed to you.

  9. Reading these comments has helped me a lot. My ex has our son and he is 13. He has narcissistic ways and uses my son as a pawn big time. I have tried to befriend my ex, have a forgiving conversation with him, everything. But nothing works, I am his target and he will use anything and anyone he can which has always been our children.

    He did the same thing with our oldest daughter who thought the world of him. She was a daddy’s girl and she is in counseling now due to the abuse of him using her to get at me. She has suicidal thoughts and has spent 7 days in a inpatient mental hospital trying to get right.

    I only handed over custody of our son to him because my son was having severe behavioral issues in my home and it was getting to be too much for me. He was telling my son that it was okay to disrespect me and my new husband because the new husband was not his dad and he didn’t have to listen to him.

    I have told my son he is welcome back home anytime but I can’t take the abuse anymore. I guess I will have to sit these four years out until he is 18 and can make decisions on his own.

    It kills me inside to let things come to this but I’m fed up and am physically becoming ill over the whole situation. He cares nothing about my son his grades have gone from B’s and C’s when he was with me to six F’s and D’s. He refuses to let me pick him up and speak with him which is a violation of our custody agreement. I could spend MORE money and go back to court but to be honest I have no more fight in me. I’m all tapped out. Especially since I have two other girls at home that I am also responsible for.

    It helped to read other parents in the same boat as me. I felt as if I was the only one. Any advise or feedback is welcome. Thanks

    1. Trying to reason with a person with a personality disorder or a high conflict personality is not only useless, it’s counterproductive. It actually makes things worse. I have a child with a woman with Borderline personality Disorder, and like you, I’ve tried to reason, cooperate, partner and generally be agreeable, hoping that at some point she’d change. It actually brought about more of her bad behavior. This is because these people don’t process information like a normal person. because they’re always looking for ways to manipulate, they assume everybody else is as well. These damaged people use reason, cooperation and partnering to suck people into their web, so naturally, they’re suspicious of your motives when you do this. At the same time, they realize your weakness is a desire for peace. They will exploit this again and again.

      A better approach is to draw very clear boundaries. Don’t try to reason, don’t try to work with them, don’t try to get them to change. They won’t and they can’t. Instead, call them on their behavior. That is, calmly say, this behavior makes me feel manipulated. It won’t work. Then state directly what you expect. Believe it or not, this may often snap them out of manipulation. They’ll try again later, but over time, you can manage them…sort of. Eventually, it’s likely the other shoe will drop. When they realize you’re not playing their game, they may try to remove the child from your life, or be so difficult that you have no choice but to move on. (This is what happened to me.)

      Lastly, I’ll refer you to the book BIFF by Bill Eddy. (It stands for Brief, Informative, Friendly and Firm). It’s about effectively dealing with high conflict types. I don’t agree with everything he says, but 90% is solid. It certainly can’t hurt.

  10. I’m an adult now and have been for nearly twenty years, and I can tell you being the subject of the one caught in the middle between adults is a real mind fudging experience no one deserves. My mother’s mother is a real basket case and has been the main mind fudge creator since my mother was conceived. Ever since she was born, my mother’s mother has made it her mission to use and abuse to get back at her daughter to satisfy her own mental illness symptoms. As an adult, my mother has had to deal with her mother like a never ending bed bug that won’t go away. She has been taken to court by her since my mother divorced my half brother’s father (her only marriage) and I was the target of the abuse by this mentally ill grandmother because I was raised in a single parent household and was an “out of wedlock” kid. I didn’t choose that raising it was just dealt to me and I don’t regret being raised in a single parent household except it was hard on my mother for having to defend her character more days and years than not. This caused both physical health problems and emotional undertaking on my mother and that was shitty to say the least. As a kid I got told time and time again by main “bed bug” minded people that I should kill myself, report fake allegations of abuse so I could I could be removed from my mother’s care and worse, told I should have been aborted by half a dozen assholes and yet still be told by another half of a dozen people that I was the most sweetest, kindest, and respectful person that they had encountered in a long time. Most of the time this happened under the age of 16 years old and over the age of 30 years old. Today, I locked in court battle over something I am not even apart of because some person thinks my mother has the word “Lawsuit” written over her forehead. I hate being caught in the middle and I am glad for one thing, that I chose not to be a human parent up to this point because my kids would have been removed from my care based on all this countless courtroom pawning and mind blowing abusive banter.

  11. This woman cheated on me and then told me to my face it was so good. She had plans to do it again and then broke up. I think she is the worst person in the world but I don’t talk to her, I don’t see her, I don’t even stay at Wal-Mart if she shows up. She is still trying to hurt me and using the kids to do it. I can’t stand how bloody childish it was she is truly a sick individual.

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