A licensed therapist weighed in how 90 Day Fiance: Happily Ever After? couple Tiffany Franco and Ronald Smith act as parents. The therapist warned that triangulating Daniel may ‘damage’ him later in life. But how exactly are Tiffany and Ronald manipulating Daniel to be on their side?
Couple’s therapist explains how Tiffany and Ronald are ‘triangulating’ Daniel
Licensed therapist and professor Dr. Kirk Honda, known as Psychology In Seattle on YouTube, is doing a series where he breaks down the psychology behind reality TV scenes. On July 13th, the therapist examined the July 9th episode of 90 Day Fiancé: Happily Ever After?, Ronald takes Tiffany, Daniel, and Carley to a store to buy Christmas decorations. Ronald explained that he would like to make this Christmas decor over the top to convince Daniel to stay in South Africa so that he can convince his mom as well.
Dr. Honda notes that while it’s generally OK for kids to be part of the decision-making process, Tiffany and Ronald use Daniel as a “communication device” or “pawn.” In this situation, Daniel is being used as a “go-between” for his mom and step-dad. Because Ronald doesn’t feel like he’s secure with his marriage, he’s bringing Daniel in the mix to try to sway Tiffany.
How Tiffany and Ronald may ‘damage’ Daniel later in life
Dr. Honda says that through triangulation, the “damage of a child is severe.” He explains that being the go-between “causes the child to believe that they’re responsible for their parent’s doing well or not doing well.” Tiffany and Ronald putting Daniel in this toxic position can lead to Daniel blaming himself for the outcome of his parents’ relationship.
The second thing that Dr. Honda explains is that triangulation can “take away a child’s childhood.” The therapist says that he believes that Daniel has “had his childhood taken away for a long time because he has signs of it, in that he talks in a very mature way and that he’s very kind and caring toward his mother.”
He says that “children who lose their childhood will resent it severely; it’s very hurtful to them. They feel like they’re doing big-boy chores in a little boy’s body.” The therapist says that kids put in this situation oftentimes will feel “very angry, very hurt, and they will retain that pain throughout their life.”
However, some of these kids might adapt through becoming very “people-pleasing,” which means being “very aware when people are upset, trying to manage that and not taking care of themselves.” He said another negative impact is stress, saying, “It’s very stressful on the mind and on the body, and it could cause a lot of problems there too with nightmares, sleep problems, school problems, health problems.”
How could the couple create a healthier environment for Daniel?
Dr. Honda suggests that the optimal situation would be for Tiffany and Ronald to have a private conversation, away from Daniel, about if they’re going to stay in South Africa for the holidays.
While watching the clip, Dr. Honda described what he would have liked to see in the clip, which is basically for Tiffany and Ronald to talk to each other and not use Daniel as “a pawn in their conflict.” He suggested that Tiffany should have stood up to Ronald and told him that it’s not OK for him to involve Daniel in their marital issues.
It’s fascinating to hear what a certified therapist has to say about the psychology behind 90 Day Fiancé. Here’s hoping that Tiffany and Ronald see Dr. Honda’s video and make some real changes to Daniel’s life.