When Good Parents Go Bad

Married, single, divorced, moms, dads and everyone in between… No matter what terminology I use in this post, I refer to all. Now that I have that out of the way, let’s start…

NarcissistI was on Facebook early this morning, around 5am to be exact, when I came across this image. In one single moment it became so abundantly clear to me, why some parents begin to attack their partner or ex partner through their children. There comes a time in a marriage or after the divorce where the controlling partner suddenly realizes that they are no longer able to control their partner or ex partner. This must be quite a blow to someone who is just so self absorbed and so controlling, the moment when they realise that their partner or ex partner simply does not “give a fuck” anymore!

On the liberating subject of “not giving a fuck” I highly recommend that you read this article. it may literally change your life for you The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A Fuck! (I have enabled it to open in a new window so that you are able to read it once you are done with my pearls of wisdom)

Now where was I? Oh yes this sudden need to badmouth your partner or ex partner, you see the last remaining way to attack them or to try an “get to them” is by changing the opinion that other people have of them.

Here are a few signs that you are you or your partner are trying to alienate your partner or ex partner in the eyes of the children

Venting to your child about the issues in your failed marriage, especially when you are trying to paint the other parent in a bad light. I have often heard a parent defend themselves by saying “but it’s the truth” to this I would like to respond with two comments 1) There is a huge difference between honesty and integrity and 2) A truth told with bad intention is worse than any lie.

Not letting your child transport his or her own property between residences. There seems to be a theory that “I bought it for you, so it will stay here” well you bought it for them! It’s theirs! They get to decide where they use it, where they wear it and when. The gifts you give your children are theirs, you have not loaned it to them with conditions.

Asking your child to “spy” on co-parent and report back. or perhaps even worse, going onto their phones or one of their profiles to spy yourself on the conversations that they may be having with their other parent or friends.

Reacting in a way that makes your child feel guilty for enjoying time spent with co-parent. This I have witnessed over and over when a child returns form a visit and one of the parents then questions and criticizes everything about the visit until the child is eventually in tears and threatening never to go back.

There are of course others like offering your child a choice whether he or she wants to visit the other parent when the visits are court mandated, forcing your child to choose between both parents, disrupting visitation with co-parent or creating tempting alternatives when child is supposed to be with co-parent and so may others.

Here are FOUR simple things you can use to ensure this does not happen and to help you handle things if they do…

Put yourself in your kids’ shoes. Yes you are in pain, yes you are angry, confused and even bitter but try and imagine how the children feel. Not only does your retaliation bring you down to a level you really do not want to stoop to, it leaves the children feeling like they are stuck in the middle

Just reassure them that you love them! And do it often. Let them come to understand that this is not their fight, this is between the two of you and they have neither caused it of flamed it.

Take a deep breath, structure your response really carefully taking into account all the factors from both sides and then SAY ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! It is hugely empowering and puts you back in control.

And finally… don’t ever bring your kids into the fight. It is as simple as that.

I was once going through a particularly difficult period, filled with anger and resentment and a real desire to strike out verbally, I met with a good friend of mine who is an extremely learned man and a rabbi and after listening to me, he turned to me an asked

“Do you play chess?”

“Yes I do” I replied “I was quite a player as a school boy”

“Great” he said “then tell me, what is the most important move in chess?”

“Checkmate of course!”


“The opening move?”


“Setting up the board?”


“Ok, I give up, what is the most important move in chess?”

“The next move!” He replied “The next move will determine the path of the entire game and you get to make the next move so choose it wisely and remember it will impact on everything from hereon out”

So, you get to make the next move… choose it carefully!

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