“I can’t stand my ex and have a very hard time not putting him down in front of my children, do you have any suggestions for what I should do?”
Think before you speak. If what you have to say to your ex is not positive, then do not say it in front of your children. Most children are very observant even though it may appear that they are not. In the short term, belittling their father in front of your children will adversely affect their relationship with him. In the long term, it will adversely affect their relationship with you. When your children grow up they will review their memories of your interactions with their father with eyes of an adult. I have had many an adult child of divorce in my office now going through their own divorce, deeply bitter about a negative childhood relationship with their father exclusively due to their mother’s actions. Your interactions with your ex teaches your children how they should interact with their spouse when they grow up. Putting someone down is never an effective method of communication.
Consider what you hope to achieve by putting your ex down. Are you trying to convince him that you are right about something? Are you trying to upset him? Are you venting to make yourself feel better?
Does putting your ex down achieve any of your objectives? If so, are there any negative consequences from putting your ex down that may outweigh what you hoped to achieve? Consider how receptive you are to someone after they put you down. Is your ex an exception to this?
Be honest with yourself. Identify the motivations behind your need to put your ex down. Then find a positive way to deal with your feelings when your children are not part of the audience.
Dawn M. Bennett is a divorce lawyer who practises Ontario family law, including Collaborative Divorce, with Bennett Law Chambers in Mississauga, Ontario.