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Do children get a slanted view through never saying negative things about the absent parent?

(11 Posts)
Ivykaty44 Mon 12-Oct-09 11:01:22

I wonder if by never saying anything negative about a absent parent that is not turning up for visits and being rather a poor parent to those dc - do the children get a distorted view of that parent and think that the resident parent thinks it is ok that they are treated like this as the resident parent doesn't ever say it is worng?

Could it be that more harm is done, that dc thinks it is normal and acceptable behaviour and then grow into an adult that thinks that it is ok.

Would it be far better to actually say well I dont think it is a very nice way to behave but you have to decide for yourself what and how your relationship is going to be like and leave it there?

AMumInScotland Mon 12-Oct-09 11:37:38

I don't have any specific experience, but my first reaction would be that you can criticise the behaviour but not the person IYSWIM? So, you can make it clear that it's not ok to not turn up when you say you will (behaviour), but you don't say that he's a thoughtless a**ehole for doing it (person). Even if he is!

HeBewitcheditude Mon 12-Oct-09 11:44:56

Interesting question I will watch this thread with interest because I have no idea what the answer is!

IneedacleanerIamalazyslattern Mon 12-Oct-09 11:55:40

I have to say that I kind of agree with you.
Ex has been a bit flaky about turning up and I am the one left with the aftermath of it and dd has asked why.
I have done as AMumInScotland has done and said that I agree with her it's not nice to let people down like that but I have also countered it with the fact that sometimes things do happen and it's not always your fault if you have to let someone down.

The thing is that ex shot himeslf in the foot when he kept letting them down and not seeing them for 3 months because he had to work damn hard to get dd's trust back because although she is only 6 she was sharp enough to know enough about her dad that she was very very sceptical at is motives when he did start appearing again and she just wasn't interested for a long time in bothering with him.
She goes quite happily just now but I know and he knows that he starts letting her down again then he will need to work twice as hard next time and that although I will never ever bad mouth him to the dc's I also won't cover for him anymore he has to do it all himself now and I will be there to support the dc's.

Niceguy2 Tue 13-Oct-09 09:47:15

I think muminscotland is spot on. Don't slag off the person but at the same time you need to teach them that some behaviour is wrong, even if the person doing it is their own father.

passmyglassplease Tue 13-Oct-09 09:52:27

Am watching this thread with interest as am slightly fed up of the dcs thinking that their dad is perfect,

I have been very positive about him since we split but I do think that they need to know that is not the case in reality!

shelleylou Tue 13-Oct-09 10:10:45

I would agree with muminscotland aswell. I've not had to do/say anything as yet even though ds hasnt seen his father for a year and was unreliable turning up before that. DS isnt quite 3 though. I wont excuse xp's behaviour even though hes always got some bullshit reason for not coming

BertieBotts Tue 13-Oct-09 10:14:20

I can offer a bit of insight, my parents divorced when I was 6, my dad was very unreliable in seeing us, my mum was fantastic and never said a bad word about him to us, until I was about 16. I actually think this was the best way to do it.

I think I did have a bit of a rose-tinted view of my dad when I was younger, my mum does say this was hard for her but she was determined not to pass any bitterness on. I can't remember what she actually used to say but I imagine (from knowing her) it would have been very neutral stuff, I do know she always told us that our Dad loved us but that Mummy and Daddy couldn't live together any more because they weren't happy together.

I don't think to be honest that I noticed if he let us down to begin with - it was only when I was a teenager that I started to notice and then realised he had let us down a lot in the past. But even when I was upset about stuff he had done or said (like e.g. when he remarried, his children from his new relationship always seemed so much more important to him than we did) my mum kept it neutral or just agreed with me on certain points, she didn't use it as an excuse to open the floodgates and tell us everything bad about him - and mostly she has kept information to herself unless we asked.

So really what I am saying is you can be neutral and maybe saying something like "I'm sorry he's let you down" which comments on his behaviour but shows you are supportive as well, I think when children have a good role model for behaviour and how to treat people (ie you) they can sort of compare that to the bad role model of the unreliable father, and take their morals from the one they see as good. So as long as you are consistent, they will make their own opinions of their father in the end. But save the brutal honesty until they are old enough to cope with it wink

overmydeadbody Tue 13-Oct-09 10:16:08

Agree with amuminscotland and would do this with anyone who let DS or myself down. I would let DS know the behaviour is not acceptable and not how you treat others without personally slagging the person off.

cestlavielife Tue 13-Oct-09 10:41:18

great insisght bertiebotts very helpful - tks

lindsaygii Wed 14-Oct-09 17:58:07

I'm in agreement with BertiBotts -- my parents divorced when I was two years old.

As a child I couldn't understand what was going on, or that my father's appalling behaviour was aimed at my mum, not me.

But as an adult I came to understand that she tried her best, and he was an utter sh*t.

That's what people forget - children grow up.

My dad never stopped heaping his bitterness about my mother onto me, and as a consequence he has destroyed our relationship and I haven't spoken to him in years. My mum, on the other hand, was at the birth of my son.

Play the long game!

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