Parental Triangulation Occurs When A Child Is Pulled Into Conflicts Between Their Parents, And The Phenomenon Can Have Severe Impacts On Children’s Development

Beaunitta V W/ - - illustrative purposes only, not the actual people

You’ve heard of love triangles, a scenario in which two people are romantically pursuing the same individual.

But triangles don’t just pop up in romantic affairs. The geometric shape is prevalent in other relationship dynamics as well.

For instance, when a child is pulled into a conflict between their parents, that phenomenon is called parental triangulation.

Triangulation is a process in which two people engaged in a conflict draw in a third party to weigh in on the situation. It is often used as a tactic to avoid directly expressing emotions or communicating with each other.

Research published in the Journal of Family Psychology shows that triangulation negatively impacts children’s development.

Kids who become involved in their parents’ arguments have been proven to internalize and externalize problems more than kids who aren’t involved.

What does parental triangulation look like? Some telltale signs of parental triangulation include a lack of communication between parents, one or both parents putting their child in the middle of a conflict, a parent putting one child on a pedestal while scapegoating the other, and pressuring a child to choose sides.

Another indicator that parental triangulation is taking place in the household is if one parent uses the potential disapproval of the other parent to manipulate the child’s emotions in a way that makes them scared of getting in trouble.

Studies have revealed that many children involved in family triangles felt “invisible,” caught between their parents’ issues, and coerced to take sides.

Beaunitta V W/ – – illustrative purposes only, not the actual people

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