September 21

The Split Dynamic


Most of us know what 'splitting' is. And yet, when a family is in the midst of a split dynamic, they often don't categorize it as such. 

A split family dynamic is most typically when the siblings are split between the parents. They have different parenting schedules with each parent, one sees a parent more or less than the other sibling, and/or they are entirely cutoff from a parent that their sibling is still in relationship with.

This is a problem. For obvious reasons, and yet many families are suffering from this dynamic. So why is this problematic?

Well, for one- it is very confusing to the children. One child often thinks one parent is unhealthy/abusive yet their sibling remains in their care, not them. Maybe the narrative is that they are only abusive to one child, or maybe the child is left to think that they are the favored child since they get the safe home. Whatever it is, the children get mixed messaging, different parenting, and are left with a strained relationship from one another.

Sibling relationships are vital. And how children feel about their siblings in relation to their parents, make a difference in their development as well. They affect our development and how we learn to be in relationships throughout our lives; how to share and compromise; cooperation and communication skills; healthy competition and motivation; and much more. Now, of course there are many individuals who are an 'only child,' so one could argue that they can learn these same skills with other family members, classmates, friends, etc. And this can all be true. Yet when there are already siblings, parents may not realize what benefits they are taking away from a child when they split the siblings, who often had already created a bond early on. 

Not to mention, split siblings teaches each child that there is a parent who likes them more or less than their other siblings. It creates pathology in the family for generations to come. 

So, if your children have different relationships/custody schedules with each parent, you may wish to reconsider the family dynamic entirely. We are here to help. Contact us today.


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    1. Siblings have a natural bond, so if they ‘don’t like each other’ you will want to retrace history and see what happened during the family dynamic, and work towards helping them repair their relationship. It doesn’t mean that siblings will have a ‘perfect all-loving’ bond, of course there can be conflict and differences in personality, but not a full disconnect, as they are connected.

  1. This happened to me when I was a teenager (I am now in my late 20's). Best of friends with my sister until our parents split, and quickly we became alienated from each other, and from the other parent. It was a really tough time. Eventually my dad realized his role and helped mend the family, but it wasn't easy. My sister and I are close again, of course not like before. But it definitely took a toll on me.

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