I have said this a million time to people over the years. "Your Ex is not your child's Ex!" It is so important. All year it is important. But I cannot stress it enough during the holiday season. There is no more stressful time on our kids than during the holiday season. They want to love everyone. They want to participate in everything. They don't want to be left out. And they don't want one of their parents to be left out or alone either. It is an awful place for them to be. Often they have to choose one parent or activity over the other. It isn't fair. They didn't ask for divorce. So it is more important now than perhaps any other time of the year for us to put our differences aside and try like crazy to remember our kids and they didn't divorce our ex. For more tips on how to handle the holiday season see our article about Christmas not falling on Tuesday this year. For more regarding the original entry please see the original entry from March 2015 below .
"Your Ex is not your child's Ex..." I say this over and over to newly divorced people who complain to me about this or that in relation to their new parenting situation. Your kids did not ask for a divorce. In fact, they love your ex just as much as they did before. Do not talk down about someone they LOVE! Do NOT make them feel bad for loving their own parent! They did not choose this. Choose your kids first! For some hearing this in the heat of their emotional turmoil is beyond comprehension. They just cannot believe how awful their ex has been, or that they do this this and this.......
And yet they just don't get it when I say to STOP IT! So from there I try to explain things from a different vantage point. Imagine if someone started speaking negatively about your child, yes YOUR child, the one that is perfect, that you love, and think is the best child on earth. How does it make you feel? Normally, does it make you love your child less? What does it make you think about the person saying these awful things about your child. Now take this a step further, and imagine that this person saying these wretched things about your child is say, your best friend, or maybe even your parent, whom you thought you adored! I have explained that generally negatively talking about your ex only causes resentment, confusion, and often really backfires. If it doesn't do that, it certainly confuses your child and makes them feel like they have to choose one parent over another. And that isn't something any child should have to do. I've also advised many times that if the "other parent" really is the awful buggar yout think he is, that eventually kids figure it out all on their own. This may take some times, maybe until their teen years, but they do eventually see it. And it is so much better when they see it on their own. They often come to you saying something along the lines of, "Now I know why you had to get a divorce." This is such a big a-ha for kids when they come to these conclusions on their own. There is usually no resentment, and your relationship with your child is not only in tact, but likely stronger. So I say........no matter how bad it is, you should never be talking negatively about your ex in front of your child. If they are really doing something abusive or dangerous, you should get professional help to sort out how to handle. But for every day, I'm an angry ex spouse, you should leave your venting to some other time when your kids aren't around. Encourage them to love their other parent, and to have a relationship with them. This also strengthens your bond. A good way to focus on the positives of both parents is to read out loud "We're Having A Tuesday"-it has some pages in the back that will really facillitate a great conversation. It is available here as a hardback. We are also offering a free version on Kindle as mentioned above. -And you of course can order hardcopy from Amazon as well. Enjoy your kids. Heal from your divorce. But don't expect your kids to be your sounding board while you do it.