Updated: Aug 5, 2019
When thinking about a divorce, most of us believe (as I’m sure Angelina did) that we will do divorce differently; we will be level headed; we will be amicable.
But then the emotional heartache, anger and pain begins, triggering and reactive states becomes a whirlwind of attacks, pain and anger. This stage often takes on a life of its own, and most people do not have the proper tools to deal with the devastation.
Suddenly we lose ourselves and do all the things
that we said we’d never do
This was definitely the case, as we watch Angelina and Brad’s relationship deteriorates from healthy & happy just a year ago, to angry and aggressive today.
For years we gazed with wonder and curiosity, peering into their magical fairytale romance. We watched this seemingly perfect relationship full of beauty, talent, wealth and stardom, as the two stars changed the face of the all American family forever. We wanted them to succeed we wanted to see their celebrity marriage work, but few things are as they seem, and in the end, the two stars proved to be as imperfect as the rest of us.
They news of their separation went viral. Angelina did not mince her words and Brad’s alleged alcoholism, abuse, affairs, drug use has been widely reported. The damage is done. He has now (truthfully or not) been demonized and labelled as an abusive unfit father and unfaithful husband.
Now in hindsight, Angelina Jolie may come to wish that she didn’t malign Brad in such a public manner, because in doing she, she made one of the biggest mistakes a divorcing parent could make!
And there will be consequences - There always are!
Why speaking badly about your ex is harmful and dangerous.
1. Any insults or disrespectful comments will likely lead to war:
It’s human nature: as soon as you attack the character of you Ex as a parent, all gloves are off. You have just declared WAR. Be prepared for them to come back to you using everything in their arsenal. This kind of conflict is nuclear war and can only come to mutually assured destruction. Don’t make this mistake. Never attack your ex’s parenting skills or ability, even when you think you are right or have proof.
2. Your opinion today can affect your child for a lifetime
I know you believe the truth is the truth. I’ve heard many of my clients say “my children deserve to know the truth.”
My answer is “NO They Do Not.”
Think of it like this: You want them to know your truth to punish your ex, and your interpretation of the truth is very one-sided. Now combine your one-sided perspective with your bias opinion of your ex with your hurt and unhealed emotions and it’s hard to deny that you are emotionally charged and triggered. Perhaps you can agree this is not is not the time to share your opinion with your children.
You see, your opinion today can ruin your child’s relationship with their other parent for years or even a lifetime. You must choose your words and actions wisely.
3. You become the abuser
This may sound harsh, but when you say bad things about the ex, it is abusive and you sadly become the abuser.
It is going to take something to rise above this and react differently. This will challenge you not to react in the moment (can you do that for your kids?) and to think before you speak each and every time.
4. It is child abuse
Attacking, insulting and calling your ex names is very painful for the children. It causes anxiety, fear and creates very toxic environment.
This can affect your child’s self-esteem permanently, whether you can see it or not. Simply stay silent.
Two Critical Things to Remember
1. This is Your Child’s Parent
First and foremost, this is your child’s parent you are talking about. Sure he/she is your ex, but that is less important to the fact that he/she is the parent of your child. If you take away your hate and anger towards your ex, even for a moment, you will see the importance of your children having both parents in their life.
2. You Are the Parent
It is your job to be a role model for your children. It is your job to be the adult. It is your job to provide a loving, stable home life for your children, no matter what it takes. If you make smart choices about how you engage with and how you speak about your ex, you can ensure a more peaceful divorce. Your children will have a much better shot at moving forward and coming through the process emotionally strong rather than emotionally scarred.
The goal here is to do the best you can with your children and remember that children do not scar from divorce, children scar from watching what their parents do to one another through a divorce.