If you’ve read anything about healthy parenting after divorce, you know that you should never speak ill of your co-parent to your children. However, what happens if you find out that your ex is criticizing your parenting or saying negative things about you to your kids? What if the negativity is coming from someone else on your ex’s side of the family, like one of the kids’ grandparents, aunts or uncles? Maybe it’s coming from the parent of one of your kid’s friends who took your ex’s side in the divorce.

When you hear about such things from your kids, it’s essential to remain calm and not react. This may be a good time to talk to your kids about how saying mean things about people is wrong, as is repeating those things. Don’t respond with your own negativity or get defensive.

That’s easier said than done. However, letting the situation escalate will only hurt the kids. They’ll likely go back to the other parent or family member and repeat what you’ve said. Pretty soon, you’ve got a full-blown feud on your hands. Sometimes kids enjoy stirring the pot a little bit — particularly if they find that they get rewarded for gossiping.

Remaining calm doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t address the issue with your co-parent. Whether your ex is the one badmouthing you to your kids or someone in his or her circle of family and friends is doing it, your ex is the one who needs to put an end to it. This conversation needs to be done away from your kids and in a calm manner.

If you’re not able to resolve the problem and you feel that it’s harming your kids and your relationship with them, talk with your family law attorney to see what he or she recommends. Likely, your attorney has clients who have faced this problem and can provide valuable guidance.

Source: Our Family Wizard, “3 Healthier Ways to Respond to Badmouthing,” accessed April 26, 2018