Marriages typically end because spouses have disputes or deep-seated differences that they cannot overcome. The divorce process often leads to intense negative emotions and a complete destruction of the amicable bond between former spouses.
Some couples can simply cease communicating after the divorce and never have to worry about their relationship with one another again. But those who share children will have to frequently interact with one another for not just the remaining years until their children are legal adults but realistically, for the rest of their lives.
Those who continue to have intense negative feelings towards their former spouse may talk about them negatively after custody exchanges or a phone call wherein they try to reschedule their parenting time. That negative talk may allow a parent to vent some of their frustrations, but it will likely be damaging for the children in the family.
1. Negative talk can harm the other relationship
Children who start to view one parent negatively will suffer from having a worse relationship with that parent. They may withdraw from the relationship or may derive fewer benefits from their interactions with that parent because they have begun to mentally devalue the parent and the relationship that they share.
2. Children internalize parental negativity
Children often use themselves as a mix of their parents, which means that they take any criticism of either parent very personally. The negativity that one parent has toward the other could potentially damage the self-esteem of the children in the family.
Additionally, because it makes the children feel uncomfortable, that negative talk about one parent could actually harm the way the children perceive or relate to the parent venting.
As hard as it can be, especially in the early stages of divorce, parents really need to keep their personal feelings about the other parent to themselves. The best place to express feelings is one where the children are not present and have no opportunity to overhear anything, such as at a private counseling session.
Those who shield their children from their negativity during the divorce process and the early months of co-parenting can potentially minimize any lasting damage that the divorce may cause their kids. Having a more peaceful and child-focused approach to shared custody can benefit the entire family.