Dealing with an ex spouse can be draining. And there will be many times that you’ll be tempted to say something you know better than saying. Sometimes, thinking about it ahead of time can help. So, here are eight things you should never say to your kids when you’re divorced:
1. It’s your dad’s/mom’s turn to pay for _____ (fill in the blank). Keep the money conversations between the adults. If an issue comes up concerning money, you need to address it with your ex directly, without getting your kids involved.
2. I don’t trust that guy/ I don’t like her. In regards to your ex’s new boyfriend/girlfriend, keep your opinions to yourself. Your kids should be able to form their own opinions, without being influenced by your emotions. You don’t have to like the new partner, but if he/she sticks around very long, they will be a part of your kids’ lives.
3. I can’t believe your dad/mom lets you ____ (fill in the blank). If you have a serious concern about how your kids are being parented at your ex’s house, you need to handle it with him/her directly. We all have different ideas of what’s acceptable. If your ex thinks that it’s okay for your 8 year-old to ride his bike around the block and you don’t, that’s not really something you need to involve your kids in. You and your ex will have to communicate and come up with a compromise.
4. I can’t believe he/she bailed on you guys again. It’s a fact of life that some ex’s are more flaky than others. If your ex is flaky, it can be tempting to call him/her out on it in front of your kids. But your kids will already be hurt enough, especially if they get disappointed often. It’s better for you to comfort them, than make the problem worse.
5. I want you to call my boyfriend/husband/girlfriend/wife “dad” or “mom”. It’s certainly okay to allow your kids to call a new partner “dad” or “mom”. But forcing them or putting a lot of pressure on them to do so can cause anger and resentment. Let it happen naturally and if it doesn’t, accept that and move on.
6. Your dad/mom didn’t pay child support this month, so he/she doesn’t get to see you this month. As tempting as it may be to withhold visitations from your ex because child support hasn’t been paid in full, it really hurts your kids the most. Keep your kids out of the money loop and on track with their visits with your ex, even when he/she falls a little behind on child support payments.
7. You’ll have Thanksgiving at your dad’s/mom’s on Wednesday and then we’ll have real Thanksgiving with our family on Thursday. To your kids, every holiday spent with either parent is a real celebration. Respect that and keep mum on the subject. You can focus your energy on creating memorable holidays for your kids, regardless of how their celebrations with your ex turn out.
8. If he’s/she’s going, I’m not going. The truth of the matter is that when you’re divorced with kids, there will be times throughout your kids’ childhood that both parents will need to be in attendance at a special function. Keep the drama to a minimum and happily attend to support your child. You don’t have to mingle with your ex or make a big scene… but your kid needs you there!