Families Change Guide to Separation & Divorce

5.2 - Games Parents Play

5.2 - Games Parents Play

Now, we are going to look at some of the games that parents play. In fact, they are not games, all. They are communication traps that parents can fall into.

The first parenting game we are going to look at is called “The Nasty Trap”.

“The Nasty Trap” is when one parent uses threats to get what they want.  For example, if you say, “If you don’t pay child support on time, I won’t let you see the children,” you are playing the nasty trap. When you behave in this manner, you are focusing on your relationship with your former partner. You really need to focus on your children’s needs, not your own feelings. 

This “Nasty Trap” video shows us how children can be affected by games parents play. Watch carefully to see what types of feelings your child might have if you play this game.


Narrator: Sometimes a parent try to control time a kid spends with the other parent. They might do this to try and punish the other parent because they are angry about the separation.

Girl: Can I take the cat over to dads when we do the switch on Wednesday?

Mother: No, you can't because you are not going to Dad's house on Wednesday. His child support cheque bounced again.  When he pays the money, you can go to his house.

Narrator: How do you think this girl might feel about being kept from her father?

Girl: Guilty.

Narrator: Probably. Children sometimes feel like it is their fault for the stress between parents. They might think that their parents wouldn't fight if they weren't around. They might also feel guilty about the money when one parent says they don’t have enough money.

Girl: Helpless.

Narrator: Yeah. She probably thinks that her feelings don't matter because her parents are so busy fighting each other. And, no matter how she feels, her parents may still be angry with each other.

Girl: Sad.

Narrator: Sure, she wants to see her dad. She misses not seeing him every day. And now she doesn't know when she will see him again. 


Were you surprised by the feelings that a child may have when parents play the nasty game?  Sometimes we do something and do not realize what impact it is having on others.