In the previous topic we analyzed emotional blackmail in general and discovered that it is, unfortunately, a fairly common form of violence in relationships between adults. We are going to continue delving into emotional blackmail because, if it is frequent and harmful among adults, it is even more so in relationships between parents and children, without, in this second case, being prepared to identify it.
Today I will talk about the use of children as a weapon in emotional blackmail between adults and their suffering as an indirect victim of this emotional violence; In addition, I will invite you to reflect on the emotional blackmail towards children, in parallel to the adult manifestations of this behavior.
The child as a weapon
In the couple, or the ex-partner, emotional blackmail is especially harmful, since the children are indirect or direct victims, or clearly, the weapon that is used to threaten or harm the other. When one of the parents claims that the son wants to be with him as long as possible to show him that he still cares or when he poisons the son against the other by telling him the damage he has done to the family by wanting a separation, blackmail is being used to manipulate to the little one
But also, when the couple is threatened that they will not see their children anymore or will turn them against him if the marriage breaks up, blackmail is also carried out using the children as a weapon.
The child as an indirect victim
And, unfortunately, this is sometimes fulfilled, preventing a normal relationship between the children and the absent father, or, on the contrary, putting obstacles in the way of the child being able to go to his mother when “it is his turn” to be with the father even if the little one needs it.
When we talk about a baby or a small child whose fundamental attachment figure is his mother, separating him from her by force, when it is obvious that he needs her, is also a way of using the child as a weapon to harm the mother or keep her submissive. When the child is nursing, it still shakes me more how a father can harm his child in order to assert some rights or harm his ex-partner.
Also, obviously, the opposite happens, the mother who tries to put difficulties for a normal relationship between the father and the son. When there is a separation, as long as the other member of the couple does not mistreat the child or neglect her care, an effort must be made not to discharge resentment on the child. We should always be able to put the benefit of the child above our wishes and not use it as a weapon against the other parent.
All this, of course, harms everyone, but especially children, weapons and victims of emotional blackmail, but surely, and this is what we do not usually see, it is not a new experience for them. Emotional blackmail using children as a weapon is something very serious, but it is no less so than using emotional blackmail towards one’s own children.
The child as a victim of emotional blackmail
Surely parents who use a child as a weapon had already blackmailed them many times before coming to this, but, selfishly, adults are only able to recognize blackmail if the victim is an adult and minimize emotional violence when the direct victim is the child.
Emotional blackmail occurs in all human relationships. Parents, grandparents and educators use it against children and children can learn it from them. Adults also use it against each other and the most harmful way for children is when some parents use it between them or use it to harm the other parent, whether they are a couple or not anymore.
In all these cases, the children, even those who incorporate this form of relationship with adults or with their friends, are victims, if they receive it, for receiving it, if they use it, because they have surely been blackmailed and have assimilated this practice as normal. and acceptable, because if their parents do it, it can’t be wrong. Everything I have told you about the blackmail with the child as a weapon and as an indirect victim seems to us, surely, horrible and sad. In this case, we do know that the child also suffers and we are outraged, furthermore, that someone blackmails another with emotions such as the fear of losing a loved one. Does it move us the same inside if the one who is threatened with losing love is a child and the one who threatens is his father or his mother?
And to this I go. Emotionally blackmailing a child is the same, or more serious, than emotionally blackmailing an adult. The age of the victim or the authority of the parent does not invalidate the fact that emotional blackmail is manipulation and a form of emotional violence. A positive and respectful, patient communication is a way to lay the foundations for a healthy emotionality and a family capable of loving each other without harming each other. The fact that the threats are not carried out, since the innocent child does not know it, does not make the blackmail any lighter. If a child believes that his mother will stop loving him if he does not eat the soup, the blackmail is real and the child, dominated by fear, will eat the soup so as not to lose the love of her mother.
That is the key, when emotional blackmail is carried out against a child, against our son, it is no less serious than if it is carried out against our partner. It’s worse, much worse, even if our parents did it to us or everyone else does it and the children survive.
It’s worse because the little person who is blackmailed has no defenses against this, what’s more, he trusts, he believes, in what his parents tell him and there is nothing he fears more than losing their love and respect.
There are many ways to use emotional blackmail against children, much more common, normalized but equally harmful to them, since they suppose, just as when we do it against an adult, emotional violence that manipulates and leaves a mark on the child, leading him to become the himself into another blackmailer. We will see what they are in the next topic.