Tug-of-war over daughter…..

by Rod Smith

Two families met in my office with the young girl (12) who was at the center of their conflict. Dad and his new wife, mom and her new husband, with both biological parents insisting they wanted primary custody of the child. In earlier meetings dad and mom had shared (without the other parent or the daughter present) how the other parent was irresponsible, uncaring, and unfit for anything more than visits.

Getting everyone in the same room (new spouses and child included) was no walk in the park but I insisted and the families ultimately agreed.

Having established that neither parent was the demon the other portrayed and that both step parents were invested in the wellbeing of the daughter whom all were now co-parenting, I risked asking the child to stand in the center of the room.

I requested mom and step-dad pull the child by the right arm while dad and stepmother pulled her left so we could see who could pull harder and “win” the daughter in the tug-of war.

“You are a cruel man,” said the dad, as the daughter cried and the illustration hit home.

“Not really,” I replied, “I’m simply showing you what you both do to her every weekend of her life.”

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