If your child’s other parent says bad or untrue things about you to your child it can be hurtful. Perhaps your child has told you what their other parent said. Perhaps you heard it from someone else. Either way, you may feel as if you have to defend yourself. That can be difficult and tiring for you.
Coping with your ex-partner's negative comments
Hearing these bad or untrue things is also unhealthy for your child. Although children are often quite aware of what’s going on and your child may defend you without you knowing, they can also become confused. They’ll be torn between telling you what’s being said and holding secrets.
State the facts
When you know bad or untrue things are being said about you, you may find it helpful to do the following:
- Correct any untrue things
- Speak firmly and calmly
- Quickly draw a close to the conversation
For example, you could tell your child, ‘No it’s not true that I don’t care whether you have new shoes or not. I care very much. I’m just not sure how I am going to find the money.’
After that, it’s important you stop talking about the matter. You’ve made the correcting statement and you don’t have to say any more.
This way, you won’t feel as though you’re defending yourself. You’re just stating the facts. The facts will also help your child not to be confused.
Talk to your child’s other parent
If you can, find a moment to talk to your child’s other parent. Let them know that your child doesn’t need to hear bad things about their parents. It can help if you say you won’t say bad things against them.
It may also help you to remember that when your child grows up they’ll remember what was said. This will affect their relationship with you and their other parent.
Tips for dealing with negative comments
Think of a recent untruth that has upset you recently. You can’t control how your ex chooses to behave, but you can change how you respond. Make decisions on the following:
- Is this really important or can I ignore it?
- If it is important when would be a good moment - when the children are not around - to correct it?
- Can you ask your ex to correct the untruth first?
- How can you let your children know that you each have a different understanding of the untruth?