Sitting down to dinner might feel just like any other normal night for children and parents during their parenting time. Then, one child pipes up and says that the other parent said “the divorce was your fault.”
Hearing these words from one’s child can be shocking and even devastating, but what should Kentucky parents do when faced with this situation?
1. Stay calm
It is difficult to avoid an emotional reaction. However, lashing out in anger about an ex-spouse – especially in front of the children – will not help the situation.
This is often easier said than done, but parents should avoid engaging in badmouthing, even if the other parent badmouthed them to the kids. This could only escalate the conflict and become a dangerous cycle.
2. Remain focused on the kids
While it is important for parents to stay calm, it is still critical for them to respond to the situation as well. Laughing it off or ignoring the comment might seem like the best route to take, so as not to lend any weight to the other parent’s comments.
However, parents should remember that children share this information for a reason. It is often because they love both parents and hearing negative things about a parent can leave them feeling confused, angry and worried.
It can help parents to stay calm if they turn all of their attention to how their child is feeling. When responding, parents should:
- Empathize with their children
- Correct the statement without casting blame on the other parent
- Reassure children that they are safe and loved
This not only reassures children that they can still share their concerns with their parent, but it also sets an example for how they will handle complex situations like this in their own life.
3. Address it with the other parent
It is important to have a separate discussion with the other parent about the situation as soon as possible.
Badmouthing can have a serious impact on children, even if they only happen to overhear one comment. If it becomes a pattern, it could affect the child’s relationship with their parents as well as the opinions they hold of themselves.
Therefore, parents should:
- Discuss the incident with the other parent
- Ensure both parents understand the consequences of badmouthing
- Establish rules about communicating with each other and with the children
In serious situations, it might be necessary to involve a family law attorney to help reach an effective resolution.