Bad-mouthing the Ex to your kids?
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|Mon, 05-19-2003 - 12:06am|
The topic was whether it is right for a divorced parent to talk to their kids about the shortcomings or failures of the other parent - i.e. reasons for the divorce.
My FBIL feels that in NO way should the children be told, that neither parent should speak harshly or negatively of the other parent in the childrens' presence. I agreed with him that a divorced parent should not make the other parent out to be "the bad guy" (or bad girl), or constantly bad-mouth the absent parent in front of their kids, but that the kids need to know the reasons for the break-up. He is also a divorced parent with two young sons, whom he shares custody with his Ex.
You see, I never bad-mouthed my Ex after we broke up, and never told my young son (now 17yo) the reasons for our breakup. All he knew was that we "didn't get along." He questioned me, but in the interest of not passing negative information about his father, I refused to give him the sordid details.
I see now, too late, this was a terrible mistake. My son blames me for the divorce, blames me for his father being so miserable - alcoholic, drug abuser, etc. It's all my fault. He believes his father to be an angel who was wronged, and I am a demon for doing this to him. I believe this is why my son has little respect for women.
On the other hand, my FBIL also has never bad-mouthed his Ex in front of his boys, but they see their mother and their father both, every day. For their family, this has not been a problem and the boys seem well-adjusted.
The difference may be that my FBIL's Ex also does not bad-mouth the boys' father, either. It's a mutual agreement between them. I had the same agreement with my Ex when we divorced 11 years ago, but have no idea whether he has upheld his end of the bargain. I never question my son about what his father says about me.
What do you guys think, and have you encountered the same dilemma, and what did you do about it?