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Badmouthing other parent, always a bad idea?

(18 Posts)
Doingprettywell Sat 12-Mar-16 13:25:37

5 years ago I got out of a physically and then emotionally abusive relationship. We had 2 dc together who see exdp eow and holidays and have a good relationship with him. As far as I know he doesn't treat them the same way he treated me. I have no animosity towards him, just think he's a bit sad.

When My mum left my dad she didn't badmouth him at all, at the time I blamed her and it did add to the rift between us. As I grew up I realised what a messed up person my father is and although I love him I want nothing to do with him.

I use to choose men just like my dad, (cliche I know!) I feel that if my mum had talked to me about ea, boundaries, respect, that sort of thing I wouldn't have had so many crap relationships and my dad's behaviour wouldn't have affected me so badly.

Now with respect to my children, as I learnt the hard way I try to do everything I can to help them have good self esteem and hopefully in the future enable them to have healthy relationships.
I haven't let them know the full extent of what went on with me and exdp but I do point out some of his weird opinions and behaviour as I don't want them to think it is normal. There is no name calling.
I always let them know that exdp loves them very much and is different with them than he was with me. Also if I am honest I don't want them to blame me for the breakup like I did with my dm.

I know badmouthing the other parent is frowned upon and I don't want to damage my dc's by being negative about exdp but I feel that sometimes it is justified and that honesty is better in the long run.
What are your thoughts?

Pinkheart5915 Sat 12-Mar-16 13:36:10

My dad left mum for another woman when I was 12 and now I am 25 and she has never said anything bad about him.
They didn't have a good relationship once he left mum only spoke to him in very words when he picked us ( until he stopped all contact)
When I was chatting to mum recently I asked why she'd been this way mum says that what happened in there marriage was between them and us kids didn't need to know
Mum also says that he was our dad still and we had to make our own opinion on him and not be influenced by her feelings.

I have no contact with my dad haven't since he stopped coming to see us, and I don't think I ever would.

DioneTheDiabolist Sat 12-Mar-16 13:43:28

You can talk to your DCs about respect, boundaries and abuse without badmouthing their dad.

Hissy Sat 12-Mar-16 13:46:30

Age appropriate truth. How else are they supposed to navigate life?

LionsAndTigersAndBearsHaha Sat 12-Mar-16 13:54:05

I was in a DV relationship with an ex, my DC have no idea but I've still spoken to them about respect. You can teach your DC without mentioning their father.

Fwiw, I think it's s bad thing to bad mouth the other parent, if behaviour must be spoken of, it can be done tactfully.

Doingprettywell Sat 12-Mar-16 13:58:52

Yes that's what I think Hissy

Pinkheart Do you agree with the way your mum handled it, or would you have preferred to know the truth?

Usually I do Dione and Lions The other day my dd, 9 asked me why I had left him, it was really difficult to explain why without making him sound bad.

Also he comes across as very nice and reasonable to most people (like many abusers do) He is a very manipulative person and I kind of think forewarned is forearmed.

BunnyTyler Sat 12-Mar-16 14:27:13

I am honest with my two boys (aged 10 & 13), but my separation is due to husband having long term affair.

Age appropriate truth is undoubtedly the best way imo - but separate out your relationship with their dad from theirs iyswim.

Point out the good points he has (if he has never let them down with contact, if he pays his maintenance on time etc), but be honest about why you are not still together (eg "dad was horrible to me, and treated me quite badly - it makes me sad, but it is completely separate to his relationship with you and whatever I think about him is my own feelings").

ladylambkin Sat 12-Mar-16 14:49:10

In my opinion you should never bad mouth the other parent, children find out their own way in the end

Wolpertinger Sat 12-Mar-16 15:33:06

There's a difference between badmouthing and age appropriate honesty. If your child is dreaming that the absent parent is some sort of idealized super parent because they only see them for fun stuff while you do all the boring shit, age appropriate honesty is in the child's best interests.

Elendon Sat 12-Mar-16 15:44:42

I've never bad mouthed the children's father but I have been honest. They idolised him, he's a very charming man, but I just wanted them to realise that he is devious and a liar. They now realise this.

Namechanger2015 Sat 12-Mar-16 15:54:48

Elendon how long did it take for them to figure out what their dad was like?

I've been separated for a year, children are still in the idealisation phase.

Elendon Sat 12-Mar-16 16:16:53

It took about six years, but the children are of different ages. Their views on him now ranges from hypocrite, no contact to outright liar.

SweetAdeline Sat 12-Mar-16 16:22:45

I think you need to be honest. My mum never said a bad word about my dad despite him behaving like a bit of a dick and tbh it left me a bit confused. I also felt like I couldn't be cross about what he'd done when it has impacted on us too. Ie she'd say "he left me not you, he's still your dad and loves you", but actually he wasn't bothering to maintain very much contact with us either so he had sort of "left" us.

Doingprettywell Sat 12-Mar-16 16:23:55

Actually I think what I am doing is tactful age appropriate honesty rather than badmouthing. I have never called him names or generalised about him, saying he's a bad person or worse. I always make a point of separating my relationship with him to theirs.
I really want them to grow up to recognise bs behaviour when they see it and not turn out odd like their dad.

My ds 13 has started to see him for what he is and doesn't have a lot of respect for him. Both dc are much closer to me so that helps make me feel better about him being the fun parent.

I left him but I never understood why some women who's dp's have gone off with an ow choose not to tell their children. I can't see how that benefits the dc's or them.

Takeitallaway Sun 13-Mar-16 09:02:10

Doing, I wish I had been more open with my children about my abusive ex. I just found out he was abusing them the whole time during unsupervised contact and it may have given them the opportunity to open up to me more about what he was doing if I had said more.

I think for something as serious as DV, it's important to know they are not a victim too as you cannot assume their father is not abusing them also.

I did assume and my children have paid the price for this (my post is in relationship board of you want the full story)

Obviously bad mouthing after every argument etc is not acceptable. My ex has basically been poisoning my children against me, badmouthing to the extreme and it has been so damaging.

QuiteLikely5 Sun 13-Mar-16 09:06:34

I'm all for age appropriate truth but I would not tell my children I was getting physically attacked until I thought they were in the correct place emotionally that they could handle it.

For my dc I would say well into their late teens that time would be.

i just couldn't imagine how a child would process that sort of info healthily.

MargotLovedTom Sun 13-Mar-16 09:24:03

My DM slagged my dad off constantly. She is still bitter thirty odd years later. To be fair he was a shit but I also know she wasn't the easiest of women to be married to either so it was a match made in hell, and they married far too young as well.
What really pissed me off though was regularly saying I was just like my dad, even if it was just a mannerism or a look, and this was always said in a negative way obviously.

To be honest, things were so fucked up that when I got married I chose not invite family as it was just too fraught.

Cabrinha Sun 13-Mar-16 09:29:56

I don't think there is an age appropriate way to tell a child that their dad had a prostitute habit. I could imagine telling her about a regular "affair" but not that he regularly buys women for sex.
My current plan is that if she asks when older, I'll tell her that I'm entitled to privacy. I'm hoping she doesn't ask hmm

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