Before you get upset at that headline, let me ask that if you share a child or children with a former spouse, please keep reading! The most important thing for the sake of your children is that you find a way to be respectful and not spend your life being angry and bitter toward your ex-spouse. Children often keep it all inside, but as they grow up it is painful and even damaging if they continue to observe hostility and negativity toward their other parent.
What kids need more than anything is the FREEDOM to love you both. Kids will “go along to get along” and if you are a person who talks bad about their other parent you will contribute to their on-going emotional pain. What is happening inside of their soul is a crumbling of sorts. Your negative words will dig deep, and they will erode their self-confidence and their self-esteem. Kids will carry that silent pain inside and doubt their own existence because they know, instinctively, that they are “from” you, and they are “from” their other parent.
If you tell them all the things that are wrong with the other person, it creates a negative opportunity for them to internalize the words as if something is wrong with them. I realize that there is no parent who would ever want to hurt their own child; however, it happens quite often when ex-spouses carry forward anger and toxic negativity toward one another.
In honor of this year’s National Ex-Spouse Day, I would encourage you to cease war and find a new way to model a respectful attitude toward your child/children’s other parent by speaking with a positive tone of voice whenever you refer to that person. Also, if you want to increase their self-esteem and confidence, find three positive things you can say to your child about your ex. For example, if that person has a hobby or talent, consider saying something like, “Your Dad is great at baseball, and I am glad you get to play catch during your time with him” or “Your Mom is really talented at drawing – you must get your art skills from her.”
These positive words are a priceless gift to your child and will reap a lifetime of rewards for their emotional stability. Trying this one thing and being consistent with positive words (instead of negative) can transform your children’s life and will be a great example to your child about how to treat others with respect and positivity.
Tammy Daughtry is the Founder of CoParenting International and is raising her blended family in Nashville. See more at www.CoParentingInternational.com