All too often, children are pitted against their parents when there is difficulty between them. When parents fight, it’s often the children who suffer. Sometimes, maybe even unintentionally, a parent will paint the other parent in a negative light, thus lowering the esteem of that parent in their child’s eyes.
When it comes to relationships, there are ups and downs, and sometimes someone gets the short end of the stick. Maybe Mom cheated on dad, or dad is an absent father. Whatever mistreatment that person has done should never be shared with the child. Why? The reason is simple; kids need both of their parents. Sure, there are plenty of successful, single-parent households, but no matter why the other parent is absent, the child should never feel animosity for that person. Animosity towards a parent often turns into negative emotions towards themselves.
It’s not unusual for a child to blame themselves for a parents absence. They think mommy or daddy left because they aren’t good enough or worthy to be loved. That’s why it is so important to be as amicable as possible to the other parent so that the necessary interactions with them do not negatively impact your relationship with your child. This might entail sitting down together like adults and making an agreement on what is on and off-limits. Come up with a plan that covers who will care for the child when appropriate punishments and anything else that you both feel are important when it comes to caring for your child. Try to be as realistic and fair in these negotiations as possible. Remember, you will have to deal with this person for at least 18 years, so pick your battles wisely.
Finally, when you are upset with your child’s parent, don’t let that anger seep over in conversations with your child. It can be tempting to discredit the other parent, especially if you are the one providing most of the child’s care weather physically, financially, or both. You may believe you are teaching your child to see you as their main benefactor, but in reality, you only hurt the child when they hear disparaging things about their parent.
The bottom line is, do what is best for your child. And if you and the other parent are struggling to come to peaceful terms, it may benefit the entire family to seek expert guidance from a relationship expert.