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Watch your language in front of the kids!


Separation and divorce can be a bitter battle with anger, resentment and bitterness spewing venom into communication with the kids regarding their other parent.

There are parents who feel it is only right that the kids know the truth about what is going on in an attempt to cast aspersions on the other parent to strength their alliance with the children.

It is so damaging to the child to make them your counsellor to vent, seek emotional support or validation that they are the better parent.

You may be angry with your ex for them getting the house in the financial settlement or for reducing your lifestyle to surviving on little child support subsidised by the government. Your ex may have even started a new relationship where they have two incomes in their little love nest whilst you are struggling to make ends meet. It may be tempting to throw the other parent under the bus to the children when they ask for a new pair of Nikes to say, “Your Dad doesn’t give me enough money to buy you Nikes, you will have to have a pair of sports shoes from payless shoes.” This creates the perception in the child’s mind that their other parent does not think they deserve Nikes and their own value in themselves diminishes. Your intent to discredit the other parent strikes a blow to your own child’s self-esteem and self-worth. You are the parent and as such should attempt to shield your child from the detrimental impacts of financial stresses brought about by financial separation. Instead advise your child “maybe we buy the Nikes for your birthday, or we can get a pair of sports shoes from payless shoes and get a pair of sandals too with the two for one price deal.”

You may be renting a small 2-bedroom unit, fuming that the large family home is now in the possession of your ex and the children. You feel jaded that you have come off worse in the financial separation whilst your ex appears to be the winner. Your kids might come to stay, and they say, “why do we have to sleep in the same room, why can’t I have my own room?” This can really trigger your resentment for your ex, and you blurt out “Well your mum cleaned me out and left me with nothing.” The kids are sad that you are being mean about their mother and that they have caused you to become angry. You don’t get to see your kids as much as you like so ensure the time you do get with them is spent being positive and happy. Any frustrations or resentment you have, vent to a mate, not your kids. You would be better off saying “yeah it’s just for sleeping, tomorrow we are going to have so much fun going to the beach, and you’ll have plenty of space to run around.”

Reflect on the positives in your negative situation as most of the time we only think about how it is affecting us, rather than being positive role models for our children to learn how to be resilient to get through challenging times. The more we show our discontent with life, the more the kids feel discontented with their life. They watch and learn, hear what you say, see what you do and how well you make the most of a tough situation. Why drag your children into the depths of despair with you, only to suffer a negative environment impacting their emotional wellbeing? Children should be spared the ugly side of separation by their parents who lead the way to help the kids through with constructive solutions.

It is tough to separate how you feel about the breakup from your coparenting responsibilities. It is an emotional rollercoaster, some days worse than others. The key is to gain the emotional support externally to gain the strength and the stamina to lead your family through the challenges. Do not drain the emotional energy of your children who get caught up in the parents’ conflict, become the messengers as parents can no longer communicate or bad mouth the other parent in an attempt to weaken the bond they have with the children.

Work with a Divorce Coach, to empower you to prioritise your challenges and create solutions with actions to move towards your future goal to create a happy family once again.


Author – Cheryl Duffy, Divorce & Conflict Coach, Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner and Parenting Coordination

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