Many co-parents underestimate the impact conflict has on their children. I have had kids tell me they think their parents would be happier if they (the children) didn’t exist. That makes sense when you think about it from a child’s point of view. All of the fighting seems to revolve around the fact that children have needs: physical, social, academic, recreational, etc. They perceive that if they didn’t have needs, their parents wouldn’t fight. I try to impress upon co-parents that they must do everything in their power to ensure their children are unaware of the conflict between them so their kids don’t feel responsible. That’s why I have hard and fast co-parenting rules, like clearing schedule changes with the other parent before saying anything to the children, not sending messages of any kind to one another through the children, and avoiding co-parent conversations around the children. Even negative body language is easy to discern and interpret by children. The bottom line when it comes to co-parent conflict is what kids don’t know can’t hurt them. So, when parents insist on breaking my rules, my interpretation is that they are more interested in being right than protecting children from the awful feelings connected to “I wish I didn’t exist.” The depression and long-term effects of a child consistently feeling that way is obvious. Kids don’t ask to be born into these complicated situations, so the least parents can do is take care of their kids needs as peacefully as possible, regardless of their feelings about one another.