28 Jun Dealing with Trash Talking from a Co-Parent
Divorce is bad enough, but continually hearing bad things being said about you can add fuel to the fire. While the goal of marriage is not to separate, the goal of divorce is to amicably end your relationship and move forward with a foundation of trust and respect for you and your family. That foundation is eroded when your co-parent is badmouthing you when you are not around. Here are a few tips to deal with difficult co-parents who might be saying negative things about you.
First, ask the co-parent to think of the kids first.
Divorce and separation can often leave those involved feeling hostile and resentful, so it is not uncommon to find one or both people involved, badmouthing their ex-spouse behind their back. However, it is not you or the co-parent that gets hurt, it’s the kids and people you unnecessarily involve into your own drama. When one parent says mean, hurtful things about their co-parent in front of their kids or in a social setting, the children and others will suffer an emotional burden because of it.
Second, handle it appropriately.
As much as you’ll want to lash out and share how upset you are, simply don’t. Stay calm, cool, and collected and remember you are in control of your emotions and life. The co-parent doesn’t get to drag you into their mess. If you engage with the nonsense, you are effectively dragging yourself into that drama. Handing it appropriately requires you to remain calm and think about your co-parent as a business acquaintance that needs a polite check – do not retaliate. Don’t involve your kids any further into this turmoil by using this moment to “get back” at your co-parent and say mean things about them to your children. Instead, see this moment as an opportunity to have a conversation with your kids about what they heard and about saying mean things in general. Even if what your kids have told you hurts your feelings, you don’t need to get defensive in front of them. You can explain why what they heard is not true, but you shouldn’t worry about having to prove anything to them just because of what they heard. Telling them the truth should be enough. Let your kids ask questions to you about this or anything else that is related, and do your best to answer them as honestly and respectfully as you can.
Third, after you’ve talked with the kids, next talk to the person doing the bad-mouthing.
It might be a co-parent, but perhaps you’re in a situation where mutual friends are taking sides. Simply have a calm, cordial, business-like conversation and ask them to stop saying bad things about you and that it is hurting the kids. Ask them if they intend to hurt the kids and when they say no, remind them that requires them to stop saying mean things about their parent or parents. If you find it too difficult to talk to this person face-to-face, send this request in writing, and document what you say and their response to it. Whatever you do, protect your kids from being part of this conversation, and have it somewhere far from where they can hear you. If the conversation doesn’t get resolved, continue talking with a family law attorney for help in taking the appropriate actions to prevent it from happening again.
West New York Family Attorney | Jeffrey M. Bloom
Contact the Law Offices of Jeffrey M. Bloom today if you’re faced with a family law matter including divorce, child custody, or child support. We are here to help – get a consultation – (855) 208-3650.