Comparing offspring with each parent can be challenging if couples split.

How often do you hear children being discussed in terms of likeness to heir parents? For example, “ you look just like your mother” or you have your fathers’ dark hair”.  From a newborn to a toddler to a school-aged child to a teen, we’ve all heard endless comparisons with various family members.

Not always are the traits physical, as in looks, but they can relate to personality as well.  You might hear: “You are just like your mother!” Or “You are anxious like your Grandma Burke.  “We always look for comparisons and wrap a child’s identity up with their likeness to their parents.

Each child is biologically half their mother and half their father.  Each child is also psychologically half their mother and half their father.  We tell them this, we talk about it and so naturally, your child builds up a picture of themselves based on all these comments.  So what then happens when parents divorce? When one person is no longer desired/wanted/liked/spoken about. How does a child interpret this rejection of their biological and psychological halves? What was once ooohed and aaahed over, now becomes not wanted and yes, children do see this reflected in their own selves.

So this is where we as parents need to be careful. The damage that this can do to your child is quiet a long list.  Just to pint out a few, we know it will impact on their future relationships (friends and intimate), how they manage conflict in the future, and how they solve problems.  Damage to a child’s sense of self is not going to be fixed by a stepfather or stepmother, should the future bring this.  A father or mother cannot be replaced by an exchange model.  Even if the new partner is a great person and step –parent, a child will never find the missing half of their identity in the new man or woman.


Nicole Pierotti

Written by Nicole Pierotti

© Copyright 2012. No reprinting or publishing without permission from writer. For permission or further information contact

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