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How to Avoid Damaging Your Child’s Relationship with Their Other Parent

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Post Author Image This article was reviewed and approved for publication by Attorney Charlotte Christian.

After your divorce, you may become envious of your ex-spouse. Maybe the kids speak highly of your ex or talk about what they did with your ex. It can be tempting to vocalize that to your children – but don’t. Read our blog to learn how to avoid damaging your child’s relationship with you and your ex-spouse.

The Dangers of Envy

It’s easy to be jealous of your ex-spouse, especially in the emotional aftermath of a divorce. Feeling that emotion isn’t a bad thing. Still, it does become a problem when you involve your children in processing that feeling.

When you talk about your ex-partner negatively around your kids, you may complicate the feelings they have for their other parent. This can increase their stress and lead to physical manifestations of that distress.

If you speak negatively about your ex-spouse, your kids may wonder if you feel that way about them too, which can damage your relationship. Trash-talking your ex in front of your kids can lead to other emotional problems, like low self-esteem, withdrawal, or resentment.

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What Not to Say

To prevent your child’s potential emotional problems, you must avoid speaking negatively about your ex’s life. Don’t trash talk about their new partner, lifestyle, or anything that your children could interpret as a flaw in themselves.

Here are examples of what you should avoid saying or talking about in front of your children.

  • Avoid comparing your children to your ex-spouse. Statements that compare your kids to your ex, like saying that your daughter is messy like her mother or that your son is lazy like his dad, are incredibly damaging to your child’s self-esteem.
  • Don’t talk about your ex’s character. Saying that your ex is a gold digger, or any other insult like that, could lead to your child internalizing that you also feel that way about them. Avoid insulting your ex-partner so that your kids can hear you.
  • Avoid fighting with your ex in front of the kids. In the heat of the moment, you may say things to your ex-spouse that you later regret – especially if your children can hear the fight. Keep things calm until you can separate yourself and have an adult conversation.

How to Help Your Children

Since divorce is an uncertain time in your child’s life, you will likely have to work on different strategies to help their mental and emotional health. Here are a few ways you can help your children through the divorce.

Don’t trash talk your ex – seriously.

It can be tempting to talk about your ex to other people, but be sure that your children are not around you before you do. Kids have big ears, and even if you think they’re doing something else, they may be listening in. Avoid trash-talking your ex if your kids could hear you.

Support your child’s emotions.

Depending on your child’s age, they may or may not vocalize that they miss their other parent. Regardless, be sure to support your child in how they work through that grief. Allow them to miss their other parent, and try to offer some solutions to remedy that feeling.

Take care of your mental health.

Going through a divorce can lead to many negative emotions – and you might not be sure about what to do with all of them. Be sure to take care of yourself and your mental health – you can’t pour from an empty cup.

Remind your children that it’s not their fault.

No matter your kid’s age, they will likely feel like they are partly to blame for the divorce. Remind them often that the divorce had nothing to do with them and that you and your ex-spouse love your children very much.

Give yourself grace.

The fact of the matter is that divorce is hard. You aren’t perfect, and neither is your ex-spouse. There will be times when you say something that you shouldn’t have, or that you react to your children or ex with anger.

The most important thing you can do is give yourself grace and be honest with your children – they will appreciate that you took the time to explain and apologize for the situation.

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Speak with an Experienced Attorney

It’s crucial to speak to someone who can understand what you’ve been through and help you through the process. Here at The Law Offices of Charlotte Christian and Associates, we will support you every step of the way – even after your divorce is finalized.

If you are interested in getting a divorce or want someone to look at your existing divorce papers, connect with us online at charlottechristianlaw.com or by phone at (256) 859-7277.

We’ll make your today better than your yesterday.

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