St. Augustine Woman's Journal - Educational Resource to the Women of St. Johns County Since 2009

By Kathleen Abbott LMHC
The LifeSource Group 

Children Caught in the Crossfire


June 1, 2017 | View PDF

Most parents would do anything to protect their children, yet this alone is the most debilitating outcome from highly dysfunctional relationships. Whether still married or long divorced, the children still suffer from the parents conflict. Think of it in another way; half of your child's DNA came from each parent, so expressions of disdain, hatred or even extreme intolerance ("I can't even be in the same room as him") are internalized by the child. A younger child who may be more aligned with their mother, for example, may believe that their father is indeed a bad person, or mom would not dislike him so. This can lead to parental alienation and more internalized conflict for the child. Older children may begin to resent both parents who can't seem to get it together for their sake. Can you imagine what a ten year old feels when receiving an honor roll award only to have to scan the audience to find each parent as far away from the other as possible? Yet this is mild compared to what children hear and over hear. The arrows of criticism, judgment, dislike, rejection, anger, blame and bitterness flying between the parents harm the children caught in the crossfire. The potential absorption of feeling worthless or responsible for the problem can lead to failures in school and relationships that can be with the child long into adulthood.

Even though the courts do their very best, better results are achieved when parents design their own plan. Mediation or Parent Coordination can be an efficient process to decrease conflict and focus on the best interest of the children. Most parent coordination guidelines advise clear, respectful communication through the adults, and not the children. Yet this situation can not be ameliorated by just a better structure. The pain of the divorce and the betrayal of the former spouse needs to be dealt with. Betrayal occurs not only with adultery, but when one person abandons the covenant of marriage. The more evidence a spouse has about the poor choices made by their partner, the more entitled they they believe they are to hate. Choosing this position is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.

At The LifeSource Group, we believe that healing occurs when emotions are dealt with and released. Unforgiveness and anger never offer protection from hurt or pain, and time alone often contributes to more evidence of the same. Even if a couple divorced long ago, if high conflict or disdain still exists, they would benefit from co-parenting counseling. If you cannot get your ex to participate, then change can begin with just one parent breaking the cycle. Can you imagine what it would be like if the unconditional, unlimited love that a parent has for a child would be extended to their other parent? This kind of familial love is quite different from the romantic love that has been lost or broken, and does not interfere with remarriage. Our therapists, trained in both science and spirituality, also believe that any new relationship is going be adversely impacted if the past is not healed. "There is no room in love for fear" I John 4:18 The Message.

Kathleen Abbott, Licensed Mental Health Counselor & Clinical Director

"Kate" has a Masters Degree in Clinical Social Work from Florida State University and is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor. She has over 25 years of experience as a therapist and as a business leader. She coaches managers on best practices, is a regular speaker on creative and practical life strategies and believes "transformation begins with a renewing of the mind." Her clinical expertise is broad with specialties in eating disorders, PTSD, women, couples, teens and faith-based counseling. She is also highly experienced in providing counseling and crisis intervention training to various organizations in our community. A former licensed foster care parent and mother of two daughters, she is able to equip others in managing life's many changes and challenges.

John R. "Jack" Jones, Jr, Licensed Mental Health Counselor & Certified Family Law Mediator

Lasting Results Through Science & Spirituality Free Counseling Through Our Graduate Intern Program Free Substance Abuse Groups Featuring SMART RECOVERY

"Jack" has an MBA from Columbia University, a Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology from the University of North Florida, is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, a Clinical Hypnotherapist and a Certified Family Law Mediator. A former CPA with over 20 years of international business experience, he now specializes in working with teenage and adult substance abuse, family and couple discord, parental alienation syndrome, trauma, anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia. Practicing what he calls Cognitive Soul Therapy, dramatic results are sought using both science and spirituality. He is also familiar with the courtroom through his experiences as a Family Law Mediator, Guardian Ad Litem volunteer, licensed foster care parent, and adoptive father.

(904) 797-5680

Fax: (904) 797-5681 •

248 Southpark Circle East • Saint Augustine, FL 32086


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