This mistake to absolutely avoid during an argument so as not to traumatize your children

This mistake to absolutely avoid during an argument so as not to traumatize your children

The fact that you are in conflict within the couple, with the other parent, does not allow any low blows. Behavior involving children in particular would be very harmful to their development. Absolutely avoid.

Do you have something to reproach your partner for? To take stock of your organization? Perfect, that means in an adult world. But this need to communicate (or to argue) should be based on a simple rule: do not involve the children’s opinions in the conflict, because this parental triangulation is harmful from several points of view.

Parental triangulation, what is it?

We call relational triangulation, and in this case “parental”, when two people who are arguing involve a third interlocutor to take sides and put an end to the conflict even though the latter was not involved. You will have guessed it, in a parental triangulation, the third person is therefore your daughter or your son who had the misfortune to be nearby and who finds themselves taken to task without having the maturity to manage this situation.

“Triangulation is often used as an escape tool to avoid conflict or avoid having to express one’s own frustration, displeasure, or other emotions.” says Casey Clarks, a parenting expert at

And sorry to say it, but this taking on looks a lot like manipulation, like a hold on a being who will not have all the keys in hand and who will be afraid of disappointing you.

How to spot parental triangulation? And do I use it?

Very often, parents do not realize that they are using this type of manipulation. They have acquired automatisms and this is how they express their frustration on a subject or an unresolved conflict. But a few signs are eloquent:

  • You frequently place your child in the middle of the conflict: that is to say, you invite him to give his opinion, to take sides, to choose one of the camps, such as “Even Noah noticed that you were in a bad mood right now!”
  • You criticize the other parent to your child, abruptly or subtly. “Oh look, Dad hasn’t finished his work yet, you’re probably going to be late.” But belittling your partner around your child is tantamount to implicitly encouraging them to do the same.
  • You are taking advantage of the other parent’s potential disapproval. That is to say, instead of using your own authority, you opt to use that of the other parent: “Be careful, Dad won’t like this attitude and will probably punish you.”
  • Finally, you are probably using this method, without your knowledge, if communication is broken between the two of you.

Good in his body, good in his head!

Triangulation with perverse effects for your child

But is it so serious to involve the child in a family conflict? Well, yeah. Parental triangulation is harmful for the child in several ways:

  • First of all, this can prevent him from building healthy relationships: your relationship being the model with which he builds himself, if you do not know how to resolve your conflicts, you transmit to him a bad way of communicating, and a difficulty in building a relationship of trust in future relationships;
  • But also in the present, this amounts to making him feel guilty in a conflict which ultimately does not even concern him, when we know precisely that children tend to consider themselves responsible for disputes between parents;
  • Finally, by doing this, you expose your child to what is called a conflict of loyalty, that is to say a psychological torture in which the child must make the impossible choice between two parents whom he loves just as much.

Three consequences it’s best to remember the next time you argue… As far away from the children as possible.