Divorce Issues/Good parenting

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Question
My husband and I are going through a divorce and have 3 kids ages 1, 4 and 6. My soon to be x-husband lives with his parents and are talking bad about me to the kids. I wanted to get an outside opinion about the email I sent and the one I recieved back on this subject. Sometimes I feel so enmeshed in all of the drama that it's hard to tell if I'm really right about certain things:

My email:

"Jenny has been coming to me regarding questions and comments regarding child support. Since you are so interested in the emotional and mental health of the kids, I would suggest that you and your family practice some restraint when talking about such issues in front of or to the kids. This is very unhealthy behavior and very concerning. I hope you, your mother and the rest of your family are capable of better."

His answer:
"I don't know what you are talking about.  The only comments my mom has had made to Jenny is that her Dad pays your Mom money to pay for the rent, her phone, your car, and your food, gas, clothes.   Your Dad pays for these things and has paid for all of these things for as long as you were born.  Your Mom's job was to stay home and take care of you kids...so you might not have known that your Dad works jobs to pay for the things cause your Mom doesn't have a job.    Jenny was asking for things at the store and my Mom explained to her that the reason they are at the store is that we have to buy car seats cause your Mom won't share the car seats anymore, that I bought. So we have to make sure you have car seats.  There is no money to buy anything else. I don't know how this is unhealthy behavior to tell your child that your Dad works to provide for her and the family."

I really feel like his email proved my point about how not to talk to the kids, but he actually thinks there's nothing wrong with this. Please help!

Answer
Dear Dannielle,

I definitely see your point.  As a mother/mother-in-law/daughter-in-law, I wanted to give this consideration from all perspectives.  There is no getting around the fact, you are going to be on your mother-in-law's "list" from here on out.  What she offered, was basically a way to say "No" to the child but blame you so she didn't have to be the bad guy saying No, as well as sink a barb about you.  Grandmas do not like to tell their grandchildren NO.  I'm guessing and this is only a guess, but there are many "barbs" in her general conversation that have just been accepted . . . Probably if you remember back to times you were in her good graces, her comments were probably a bit biting, but indirect, when she disapproved of something or someone.  

Your husband is, of course, going to defend his mother against the woman he is divorcing.  I'm not saying it's right, I'm just saying it's the way it usually goes.  Keep in mind, the reason you are obtaining a divorce, as one of those is probably a failure to communicate or stand together.  Although I don't agree with what they are saying in front of the children, I doubt there is anything you can do to stop it, other than you yourself take the high road to set the example you believe is healthiest for the children, and offer them the refuge of "family."

The fact that a child had to listen to that lengthy explanation when she had simply asked for something at a store, is very telling . . . but as young as your children are, I'm thinking they will see the difference between the heaviness of her negative comments, and the difference they see with you.    

If he's going to live with his parents, then I'd say all you can do is prepare your children for grandma being a downer . . . When your daughter asks anything else, I'd briefly explain to her that you're sorry she has to hear about the grown-ups' problems when she visits her dad.  It's okay to tell her grandma is mad at mommy, in your own words, of course.  Answer her questions as succinctly and unemotionally as possible.  If you deal with the situation honestly without manipulation, the children will see the difference.

I hope this helps and wish you well as you navigate this situation.

Kind Regards,
KD Liz
www.thelandofgoshen.com  

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I can answer general questions regarding separation, property, and some custody questions. I cannot answer legal questions or specific questions pertaining to individual states and counties. I can offer support through the pending time, as well as offering assistance and ideas as you move on as a single individual. I can tell you how to avoid repeat pitfalls and help you learn to leave old baggage out of new relationships. I can help you work through the contemplative time of "what if" and "if only." I am able to offer advice in dealing with unnecessary guilt, undeserved judgment, and share insight as to discerning between concerned friends, family and coworkers and nosey gossips.

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