Alison Roy, a child and adolescent psychotherapist, says:
“I see many varying degrees of children used as weapons but this is especially damaging. Sometimes, when an adult breaks down, the needy and psychologically unwell, demanding child can emerge.
“Unresolved traumas, losses and emptiness leave the parent behaving more like a difficult, wounded child – and their own children are used as a vehicle to punish the other parent. The wounded parent becomes what I would describe as “split” or polarised in terms of how people are viewed – similar to the way a young child might see the world, as full of goodies and baddies. Their need to convince others that their partner, ex-partner or a new partner is abusing their children takes precedence and becomes a way of revisiting their own unresolved rage and fear as a child.
“It can be hard for professionals to unpick what is happening, especially as all professionals working with children take allegations of abuse very seriously. In addition to this is the battle children can get caught up in, where their parents are collecting ‘evidence’ from their children against their partners/ex-partners in order to make a case in court for custody.
“What is devastating to the child is the role reversal and the impact on them of having to placate, care and manage conflict. Their view of the world as a safe place is contorted and they are left feeling that nothing makes sense and they have no idea who the real goodies and baddies are. Children with this perception of the world and adults (who should protect and support them) can grow up with the potential for personality disorders and ongoing damaged attachments, in which intimacy is challenging.”