With something like forty percent of marriages ending in divorce, there are many children who spend time separately with Mom and Dad. It should go without saying that parents should not make disparaging remarks about one another in front of children. Most parents recognize the wisdom of this principle, but others let their anger undermine common sense.
Sometimes the negative comments about the ex are not made directly to the children, but rather in conversation with others while children can overhear. This is just as damaging. Children typically love both parents, and it is upsetting for them to hear bad things about either one.
A child needs to look up to parents, and needs to believe in the goodness of both of them. Unless there is uncontrolled anger, abuse, or inappropriate parenting, we need to recognize that the other parent is likely doing the best he or she can. We all parent differently, and children will take the best from each parent.
The child will be more upset by hearing Mom or Dad being criticized than by the shortcomings that are being commented upon. At the time they will feel uncomfortable; in the future they will feel resentment towards the parent who did the criticizing.
If you cannot say anything positive about your ex, then it’s best just to say nothing. Children will, however, mention the other parent in your presence. When they do, try to at least appear interested. Parents are the most important people in a child’s life. Adults may be separated, but in the child’s mind, they will always think of their “Mom and Dad,” even if they are not together.
Copyright © Gwen Randall-Young, All Rights Reserved. Contact us if you would like permission to reprint.
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