When people with kids decide not to stay together, often it’s a bitter breakup with many a harsh word spoken. Though we should really focus on refraining from badmouthing each other in front of children, not everyone chooses to follow this advice.
If you are working on choosing your words more carefully, but find out that your ex-spouse is talking trash about you to your children, here are some tips on the best way to react for the benefit of the kids involved.
Carefully consider what has been said. If your ex is simply spitting little white lies, or missing parts of the truth, just ignore it.
Example: The kids say ‘Did you remember our pillows? Mom said you always forget stuff!’ This is not something to get upset over, though it may be difficult to refrain from defending yourself, or making a similarly negative retort. It may be that you did forget the pillows, and so then you can quietly agree, or you remembered the pillows so you can present the evidence. You may also say something like, ‘Mommy might have just been having a bad day.’ Do your best to refrain from involving the kids on your grown-up battles.
When major character insults are at work, it will likely be even more difficult to stay cool. If your ex badmouths you to the children by saying something like ‘Daddy told me you have lots of boyfriends and that’s why he left’ or ‘Daddy says you’re taking all his money so he can’t afford to buy us Christmas presents’ these are major attacks on your personal character. It’s best to take a deep breath when hearing something like this from your children.
Give yourself a moment to remember that it’s up to you to stop this cycle in it’s tracks. Replying with something like ‘Daddy is upset with me right now, and people sometimes say mean things when they are mad’ might do the trick. Keep in mind that when you rise above and take the high road, your children will formulate their own opinions about who’s more loving and fair.
Your ex’s anger and bitterness will also be noted. You cannot change any behavior or trait characteristics of your ex; if you could, you might still be together! So be an example to your children by showing them that you are still the same person; the one who loves, cares for, and stands by them no matter what.