By: Amanda Vann, Esq.
Divorce & Communication With Your Ex & Children
One of the most common complaints parents can have when co-parenting after a divorce or breakup is that the other parent speaks poorly about them to their children. These negative comments can range anywhere from blaming you for the divorce or breakup to statements that you do not love your kids. Below are some tips on how to best address your former spouse bad mouthing you while taking your children into consideration.
Stay Neutral and Don’t Get Defensive
The normal reaction when you hear someone talking negatively about you is to become upset and that reaction can come off as being defensive. There is no need for you, as a parent, to defend your actions. None of us are perfect parents, we make mistakes. We learn from our mistakes, but in my experiences, most of what parents do is with the best intentions. Just because your ex doesn’t like how you are as a parent or what you are doing, that doesn’t make it wrong. Your ex may be justified in their concerns, for example if you aren’t paying child support or you say you will show up to your child’s play and don’t. But, even if their concerns are justified, the correct way to handle it is for your ex to speak directly with you, not to involve your children.
Do not backlash with a negative comment towards your ex because all you are doing is securing a horrible cycle of putting your children in the middle. Your children may now feel that they have to choose sides, known as parental alienation. They may not be sure who to believe or what they should say, and they can develop severe emotional issues from hearing negative comments like their mom or dad doesn’t love them.
Although it will be one of the most difficult things to do, but you must stay neutral as this is the best way you can help your children make sense of the situation. Sometimes the best way to handle hearing a negative comment can be to stay calm and gently correct the misinformation. By remaining neutral you can help your children better understand what is happening between their parents and why their one parent might feel the way they do about the situation that they’re in.
A marriage ends when two adults cannot work out their differences, but divorce affects the entire family. Don’t let a divorce put a barrier between you and your children. Open communication—with both your former spouse and children—can better the dynamic of your family. Should you need assistance mediating your divorce in Maryland, contact our divorce attorneys.
Don’t Blame the Messenger
As a child, we often played the “telephone” game in which we sat in a circle and one person whispered a saying into the ear of the next person and by the time the saying was whispered to each person and went all the way around the circle, inevitably the original saying was distorted and never was the same as originally spoken. Remember that your children are being put into the telephone game when one parent talks about the other parent to them and they may not be relaying the same comment or the comment in the same fashion as it was made. Sometimes, kids will make it sound worse, other times they might soften the blow.
Don’t take out your anger from the comments made on your kids. Doing so could result in your children assuming that the reason you are mad is because the comment is the true or even worse, that you are mad at them. Whatever they say, just keep in mind that even if it’s verbatim, it’s not their fault that they relayed this to you and were put in the position of the messenger. The best thing to do is to tell them you appreciate them letting you know and you will talk to your ex about it and again correct the information in a calm manner.
During a divorce, harsh words are often shared between you and your ex spouse. Put your feelings aside and worry about your children—you want them to see that their parents are able to communicate civilly. When going through a divorce, it may help to have a family lawyer on your side. Don’t hesitate to call Andalman & Flynn.
Divorce, Custody & Family Law in Maryland
With offices in Silver Spring and Rockville, MD, Andalman & Flynn offers legal representation to divorce clients in Montgomery County as well as in Prince George’s and Howard counties. We know how complex and sensitive matters involving divorce and children can be, and we want to make sure your children’s best interests are well taken care of as they begin a new way of life. We can assist you in resolving your divorce and resulting legal matters in court or through alternative means of resolution. Contact us today.