What To Do When Your Ex Talks Bad About You in Front of Your Child

parenting May 30, 2023
Ex Talks Bad About You in Front of Your Child

Being a father is already a challenge on its own. Add divorce or separation into the mix and you open a whole new can of worms.

One of the most difficult and unique problems divorced fathers often face is when their ex-partner speaks negatively about them in front of their child. It doesn’t matter how big or small it is or whether it’s a passing comment or a joking one. The result is usually the same.

We end up unsure, unsettled, angry, indignant, sad, and a whole host of other emotions. In short, it can be a very emotionally draining issue to navigate. With these kinds of situations, it’s important to learn how to navigate them with grace.

Yes, you’re hurt and angry, but you need to prioritize the well-being of your child above all else. So, today, let’s explore seven practical steps you can take to address this issue while maintaining a healthy and positive environment for your child.

Stay Calm

Your ex talking bad about you to your kid is not ideal, but it’s important to remain calm. It’s natural to feel a surge of anger or frustration. However, if you let these negative emotions control your response, it will likely lead to undesirable consequences and regret in the end.

Staying calm lets you approach the situation with a clear mind. This way, you can assess the situation, decide on the best course of action, and make logical, rational decisions — ones that not only prioritize but also benefit the well-being of your child.

Remember, your emotional state can directly impact your child’s childhood and the time they spend with you, so strive to provide a stable and composed presence in their life.

Avoid Retaliation

“An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,” as the adage goes. However, for co-parenting fathers dealing with less-than-desirable actions from their exes, this might just be the worst path to take.

Retaliating may seem tempting when faced with negative remarks, but you need to resist the urge to engage in a tit-for-tat battle. Responding with your own negative comments or actions will only escalate the situation.

This will create further animosity between you and your ex — which often means even more problems down the line. So, be the bigger person and do your best to rise above it all. By choosing not to retaliate, you can hopefully break the cycle of negativity and contribute to a healthier co-parenting dynamic.

Model Positive Behavior

In addition to retaliating, focus on maintaining positivity. This is one of the most impactful ways you can counteract any negative behavior or words from your ex. More importantly, you are able to set a model for positive behavior for your child.

As people often say, actions speak louder than words — and children are some of the most perceptive observers around. Not only are they perceptive, but they also often imitate the behavior of adults around them.

By consistently exhibiting kindness, respect, and empathy, you can demonstrate to your child what it means to be a responsible, nice, and compassionate person. Show them that regardless of the circumstances, it’s possible to respond to adversity with grace and integrity.

If this is something you are struggling with, check out our “Lead by Example” course with our Dad University membership!

Talk Directly to Your Ex

Effective communication is an essential tool for all divorced or co-parenting fathers. It’s not an exaggeration to say that it’s the key to addressing any co-parenting challenges.

If possible, try to have an open and honest conversation with your ex about the impact of their negative comments on your child.

Approach the discussion in a calm and non-confrontational manner. Emphasizing that you both have the same goal: to create a healthy, positive environment for your child’s development.

Express your concerns carefully, politely, and in a non-confrontational manner. Most of all, do it without your kid present. This will allow you to address the issue directly and without putting your kid in a position where they may have to choose sides.

Maintain a Strong Relationship With Your Child

If you have a strong, positive, and healthy relationship with your child, no amount of negative remarks should make a dent in how they see and love you — especially as they get older. So, focus on that instead of your ex’s words.

Show your kid your unwavering love, support, and understanding. Spend quality time together and do activities they enjoy. Listen attentively to their thoughts and validate their feelings. Most importantly, reassure them that regardless of what anyone might say, you are always there for them.

Document Any Negative Behavior

If your ex’s negativity persists and eventually escalates, make sure you keep a record of their comments or behavior.

Document everything and provide as much detail as you can, such as dates, times, and what happened. If there are people around you when such incidents happen, try to get witness statements, as well.

Should worse come to worst, this documentation may serve as evidence for legal proceedings. You can also use it if you and your ex-partner ever require professional intervention.

However, keep in mind that this is only for extreme scenarios. Don’t make this your go-to step as it can potentially ruin your co-parenting relationship.

Seek Professional Help If Necessary

If the situation becomes too much for you and your ex to handle on your own — especially without putting your child’s well-being at risk, then it’s time to seek professional help.

Reaching out for help does not signify weakness but demonstrates your commitment as a divorced father to create a positive environment for your child.

Family therapists, mediators, or family conflict resolution specialists can help you communicate with your ex more effectively.

They can also guide you towards reaching a middle ground and resolving your conflicts in a positive manner that will not jeopardize your child’s growth and relationships with both of you.

The Bottom Line

Always remember that what your ex, or anyone else, says about you is a reflection of them and their character. The same can be said about your actions, too.

More importantly, keep in mind that your actions do not only affect you — they also affect your child. So, respond in a way that allows you to tackle these situations with compassion, kindness, and integrity.

Be kind, be supportive, and most of all, be a positive influence in your child’s life, no matter what others say about you.

Watch the "What To Do When Your Ex Talks Bad About You in Front of Your Child" video here:

Enjoy this article?
Get unlimited access to Dad University

The #1 educational platform for dads. Join our growing community of fathers from around the world!

Become a Member