Family Law – In Seven Parts
Part 2- “That So and So!” Talking Badly About the Other Parent with the Kids Around.
Divorce is a hard, roiling, boiling of emotions about your spouse. But when these emotions erupt out of your heart and through your mouth with your kids around, they are the ones who are hurt.
Kids identify with their parents. Both parents. As their identities and personalities are forming, they identify with their parents’ identities and personalities. So, anyone, including a parent, who speaks badly about the other parent is speaking badly about the child. If both parents speak badly about each other, the child can experience a sense of unworthiness and issues with self-esteem. The kid learns that parents are not to be trusted. Untrustworthy parents are not respected nor obeyed leading to real issues later in the kid’s relationship with both parents.
How to avoid this?
Talk to the Other Parent Without the Kids: When I was a Judge, I would ask: “When was the last time you were able to sit down, share a cup of coffee and discuss your kids with the other parent?” The answer was often blank stares. Continual parental communication about the kids in spite of the pain of divorce is hard. But it is the key to helping kids survive divorce.
Talk with Your Counselor: Many lawyers will not represent a person in a divorce who is not also in counseling. Why? Because you need someone to unpack your pain other than your friends, family, and kids. Just expressing your feelings with a counselor helps and a good counselor can guide you through your pain toward healing.
Remember What Grandma Said: My Grandma, and maybe yours, always said: “If you can’t say anything good about a person, don’t say anything at all.” Disciplining our tongues in the presence of our kids is a difficult skill to develop, regardless of whether we are in a divorce or not. But it is a discipline that matures us and allows us to help, not hurt, our kids. Kids are smarter than we give them credit for. Kids generally gravitate toward the parent that is taking the high road.
Other Parts to Follow.