You knew the criticism would surface eventually after the divorce. Still, when you heard it from your child as he blurted out, “You’re a bad parent! You broke up the family!” it was too much. You knew exactly where your child learned that from.
When a parent criticizes another parent during divorce or post-divorce, it represents an issue that must be tactfully addressed so it will not escalate out of control. The feelings and emotions may bubble to the surface, especially since your former spouse made the children the messengers.
Focus on your children
Here are the initial steps you should take if your former spouse badmouths you:
- Remain calm: It is only natural to become angry. You need to take the high road and not engage in similar behavior. Your children are watching you. You want to set an example for them, showing them what it means to have grace under pressure. They will learn from you.
- Focus attention on your children: Talk about the situation with them and understand that they are hurt by the divorce. Empathy goes a long way. The children shared this information because they are confused and angry, you need to reassure them that both of their parents love them. And that, sometimes, people say hurtful things because they are hurt.
- Discuss this matter with the other parent: Do this separately, perhaps in a public location. Criticism and badmouthing may have long-lasting effects on the children. They learn from their parents. It is a good idea to establish a set of rules regarding communication between the parents, but this may not be realistic when dealing with an uncooperative parent.
Children often are in the middle when parents criticize each other. When this affects them, it also affects you.
Seek an effective resolution
Criticism and badmouthing may surface through other avenues as well such as social media. You need to promptly address these situations. If they continue, you may have to resort to contacting an attorney with the goal of an effective resolution.