I've Been Told Not to Speak Ill of My Spouse to the Children, But I Know They Are Bad-Mouthing Me!

I always encourage clients to "take the high road" and refrain from making derogatory remarks about the other parent.  Part of it is strategic because if a party winds up looking like a jerk in court, the judge will usually make sure that things do not go well for that person.  More importantly, however, is avoiding the damage this sort of behavior can cause your children.  It can be devastating for your child to hear you running down the other parent.

Think about this from your child's perspective and remember your own childhood.  There is a reason that there are cliches in movies and entertainment about not talking about another kid's mom or that "my dad can beat up your dad."  Your child needs permission to love each of you regardless of any bad behavior by the other parent.  Children strongly identify with their parents and rightly so.  Remember, it took both of you to make the child and half of them came from each parent.  Negative comments about one parent can reflect back on the child.

Although some level of disagreement is normal in this situation, finding a balance or a way to keep it from the child as much as possible is essential.  Your children will take their cues from you on proper behavior.  If you are talking behind the other parent's back, your child will think that it is appropriate to talk behind people's backs.  If every conversation you have with your spouse devolves into shouting and cursing, that is how you are teaching your child to communicate.  Keep in mind your child's feelings and the stress they are experiencing and do everything you can to reduce their stress.  The best way to support youencourage a strong relationship with the other parent.  It is important to work to create a comforting and caring environment to help ease this major life adjustment, refraining from involving your child in your frustrations with his other parent. If his other parent talks badly about you, let him know that sometimes grown-ups act out when they feel frustrated and suggest he ask his other parent to stop, if it is bothering him.  Explain to your child that he does not have to choose sides.
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At this point, you are probably thinking "This is all well and good, but my ex really knows how to push my buttons!"  I will leave you with the wise words of Mark Twain, “Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.”  If you have more questions, contact the Alford Law Office.

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