Bitter feelings and frustration are pretty common in divorce, despite everyone’s best efforts to avoid negativity. Naturally, badmouthing can also rear its ugly head in this situation, and it makes the already-difficult task of co-parenting more challenging and stressful than it should be. Regardless of how often badmouthing is occurring in or after your New Mexico divorce, how you handle it is important because it can have an impact on your kids and how you interact with your co-parent going forward.
Avoiding badmouthing your co-parent as much as you can is the first step toward making it stop entirely. However, when it’s coming from another person – whether it’s your co-parent, his or her family, friends or anybody else – it can be even more challenging to handle, so try the strategies below to help end the badmouthing before it grows into a larger problem.
Quell Your Defensiveness
When something negative is being said about you, it can be tough to resist the urge to defend yourself. Nevertheless, jumping into it without considering your defense may just prolong the badmouthing or you may end up doing the same thing yourself. Countering a person who is saying negative things about you with emotionally-fueled comments of your own often just continues the cycle and sets a bad example for your children.
Consider how much you really care about the badmouthing person’s thoughts or opinions about you. What’s really important is how you think of yourself and what type of example you’re setting for your kids. Keep your focus on being calm and having a productive discussion instead of participating in the negativity cycle.
Try to be Neutral
Of course, hearing that someone is saying negative things about you is often hurtful, and it can be a challenge to not let those words get you down. That’s why it’s important to keep your attention on what type of role model you want to be for your kids instead. When you hear stories of you being badmouthed by others, keep yourself neutral. Don’t let it get in the way of your parenting or life overall. If you hear this from your kids, it’s especially important that you use a neutral tone when you address it with them so they feel safe and confident telling you anything. You can also take the opportunity to explain why badmouthing isn’t the right thing to do.
Work on Stopping It
Take healthy measures to stop badmouthing when you hear about it. This means that if your co-parent is doing it, you should talk to him or her directly about stopping this behavior. If it’s a friend or relative of your co-parent, you can still ask your co-parent to help you stop the behavior. This conversation should not involve your kids. They should never be stuck in the middle of a difficult conversation or conflict between their parents.
If you can’t have a productive discussion with your co-parent, it may be time to get help from a third-party professional who is neutral. Working with a family therapist or mediator can help boost the odds of you and your co-parent reaching a real solution. For additional help, depending on the situation, you can also speak to your family attorney for advice.
Badmouthing hurts no matter where it comes from, but it can have a whole extra layer when it’s part of a co-parenting situation. Always keep in mind that situations like this, which can impact your kids, are best served by your attempts to resolve the situation in the healthiest way possible. Keep calm and neutral while finding the best measures to stop the badmouthing that apply to your situation.