Why it is best not to criticise the other parent in front of your child?

Remember, your children are genetically composed of both parents.  When you say something derogatory about the other parent, you may feel a sense of self-satisfaction in the short-term but the displeasure for your child will be long-remembered. As they are part of that parent too, the impact of your words will be like a stuck record that repeats and revolves in their head.

What impact does that have on your child who is also going through the separation? They feel uncomfortable and start seeing themselves negatively. When their family life has already been split in two, for a while the situation feels chaotic and messy. Their place in the world and their bearings have shifted, perhaps even quite dramatically. Now more than ever they need safe and secure ground and to feel good about themselves.

What happens if you or someone makes negative comments around your child and they come back and tell you?

Your children seek reassurance from you and gauge your reactions like a barometer. Just like a toddler does when they fall down – looking to see what the reaction is around them – the same happens for children who are new to new situations such as separation and divorce. If your child should come home and say, “‘so-and-so’ said this about you….”, your instinctive reaction would probably be to snap back, to justify or defend yourself.  Instead, I suggest you respond by simply saying, “Remember, that both your parents love you”. By saying this you may think you’re being weak and not fighting back but what really happens is that you replace the MINUS in your child’s head by turning into a PLUS for them. Children always need reassurance that you both love them – however differently you might feel about each other. They also need to know that the negativity is not about them or aimed at them. In this way, eventually your child will stop passing on messages that are counterproductive as they know that despite your feelings for each other they are loved by you.