‘Pit the Parents’ Game: How Children of Divorce Play Both Sides 

Divorce can be tough on your kids. Everything is changing, and the adjustment can be trying for children. Therefore, they might begin to test their boundaries. One way they might do this is by attempting to play that pit the parents game. There’s no exact name for what they’re doing, but it’s typically pretty characteristic of any kid. Most kids ‘play their parents’, so to speak. But, children of divorce typically get away with it a bit better….

‘Pit the Parents’ Game: How Children of Divorce Play Both Sides
What is this ‘pit the parents game’?

By ‘pit the parents’ we mean playing both sides, ultimately. As we’ve mentioned, all children do it to some extent. They ask Mom for something, she says no— so we go to Dad. It’s not typically effective and typically ends with said child in time out or grounded. But, it works a little bit different for children of a divorce— especially a new one. Communication is low for the two of you parents, and often, you’re a bit quicker to give your child what they want. Especially if Dad won’t and you’re feeling a little upset with Dad. But, your child could be playing that ‘pit the parents’ game on you both.

What are some things to look out for?

The infamous “Well, Mom/Dad let’s me do…”

If you’ve told you kid no and they pull this card, it should be a red light that your kid is playing you. Many parents, especially early divorce parents, will fall for this one. For many parents, when you’re going through a divorce, you can feel as if you’re competing for the child’s affection, their interest, and to be the most lovable parent. We’re here to tell you to get over that— divorce doesn’t make you a bad parent.

“I like it better at Mom/Dad’s house” 

Your kid could use this in any number of ways. But, it’s important to understand that they’re testing their limits right now. They’re seeing how much you’ll give, and it can set you up for some pretty bad behavior in the future. Your child is just acting out. With time, and not giving in, the behavior will easily fade.

“But, Mom/Dad told me I could…” 

If your kid wants to do something, get something, or be part of something, and you say no— this is an easy one to fall back on. While the kid is doing this because they want what they want, it can make a parent feel pretty out of the loop. This is why communication with your ex, even though it can be tough— is so essential when you have children.

These little instances of our so-called pit the parents game are just scratching the surface. So, keep your eyes peeled, don’t let it get you down, and be the awesome parent that you already are!