Going through a divorce is hard enough on its own. With children in the mix, it can be even more complicated and stressful. But what makes matters even worse is if your ex is disparages you to your children. Suddenly the stress, guilt, shame, and every other emotion is heightened exponentially. But what can you do if your ex always disparages you to your children? Do you have recourse? Read on to learn your options.
One of the most angering and hurtful things about an ex who disparages you to your children is that it can drive an emotional wedge into your relationship with the children going forward. Depending on how old your children are, they may not fully understand grown-up issues and grown-up responses. This behavior borders on, if not outright qualifies as, emotional child abuse. And hearing these derogatory things come from the mouth of your child is even more devastating, even if the child does not understand them.
Try To Keep Calm
The first thing to remember is to keep a level head. The last thing you want to do is make matters worse by responding in kind before putting some thought into your response. Second, consider the source. Just because your children said it, does not mean it actually occurred that way. Whether through misremembering or misunderstanding or, in some instances, willful deception, children sometimes relay events in a way that did not actually occur. When your children tell you something that your ex supposedly said, take a minute to consider the source and determine if there has been some miscommunication.
Now It’s Time To Respond
When you have considered the statements and the source, it is time to respond. How you respond is just as important as what you respond with. Remember that you do not want to involve your children in a petty argument between yourself and your ex. Your goal at all times should be to protect them and shield them from any emotional baggage that may exist between the two of you. You do not want to respond in anger and let your children think that you are mad at them. This will only stir up more pain and confusion for them.
However, you also do not want to be a doormat who lets your ex turn you unto the villain in your children’s eyes. Neither of these are good options. Instead, your response should be one that aims to heal the wound from your ex’s words while assuring your children that you still love them and will provide for them no matter what. Whatever vitriol your ex tries to hurl at you through the children, do your best to reassure your children that divorce is hard for everyone and you are doing your best to recover and heal, but no matter what anyone says or does, you will always be their parent and will always do your best for them as well.
If your ex continues with this behavior, speak with your attorney about the possibility of filing a petition with the court to put an end to the behavior. Be sure to document the statements that have been made and keep track of any evidence you may have demonstrating the derogatory comments. You do not have to live with these malicious attacks forever.