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Don’t badmouth the other parent

One of the hardest things to do in a divorce is keep your mouth shut.  All too frequently I find myself trying to put out fires that a client has started, because they could not refuse to take the bait of their former spouse.  Keeping quiet, and avoiding a verbal confrontation is even more important when the parties have children.  Focus your efforts on co-parenting opposed to nit-picking the other parent’s faults.

I tell every client to live as if, “your children are always awake.”  What I mean is, act and live as if your children are always present during your conversations with the other parent.  Although your child may not be with you during the conversation, children have a way of noticing your demeanor and attitude (good or bad) after your conversation has concluded.  Remember that your children are one-half your ex, and negative comments can be received by your children as indirect attacks on them.

Badmouthing your ex-spouse takes effort, effort that is probably better used in a positive manner.  Redirecting your negative emotions towards a positive focus will help you and your children.  I once heard a family therapist suggest, try treating the other parent with the same amount of courtesy that you show the clerk at 7-11.  With this simple attempt, you will find that you have fewer conflicts with your ex and a healthier relationship with your children.  Your children may not openly chastise you for your behavior toward their other parent, but it is still their other parent.  You may not care for your ex, but your children probably do.