Parents who are indoctrinating their children to spite the ex will also enlist the child to become a surrogate spy. This can range from simple information about the ex’s new girlfriend, all the details of every breakfast and dinner (“what did you eat? What restaurant did he take you to?”) to doing complete hard drive searches looking for bank info, emails, or incrimining web sites.
Vindictive ex’s would love to be able to rummage through your home to get interesting details on your life, including any and all “dirt.” They’re still very angry from the divorce or separation. But since they can’t break into your house without risking jail time, they recruit your child to act as a spy on their behalf.
This is very damaging to the child, for a number of reasons. First, it makes the child believe that the parent and their house can’t be a normal environment. There must be something wrong with it if one parent needs all the details of what’s happening there. Second, it teaches that it’s OK to be sneaky and spy on somebody. Remember, kids model their parents’ behaviors. So a continuance brain bath in spying around a parent’s house for information to share with the other parent is very damaging to the child long term.
Finally, by aligning the child in this manner, the vindictive ex slowly tears down the bond that exists between the other parent and the child. This intentional act of abuse on the child is terrible– it creates conflict and discomfort in a relationship where little to none even existed!
Parents that do this are terrible parents. Period.
When you catch your child reporting everything back to the other parent (I discovered mine through child therapist progress notes), it’s time to let the child know that you understand they want to “help Mom/Dad, but reporting back everything you do in such detail isn’t fun for them, it upsets the other parent, and it makes you work too hard, having to carry around a mental note pad every day.” Or words to that effect.
Don’t embarrass or punish the child, or the behavior will continue and get even worse. Point it out without pointing a hard finger, explain why it’s not a fun or positive thing to do, and then drop it.