My wife recently gave birth to our first child. Words cannot describe what it was like to first see him, hold him and care for him. Do you remember seeing your first child for the first time? Did you think about how much you wanted to protect that defenseless baby? How much you wanted to do things right?
I have so much to learn as a parent, but if I may offer one parenting tip I have learned from my family law practice it is this: please, don’t let your children hear you say one bad thing about their other parent. Whether you are married to him or her, whether the words are true or not, it does not matter. Your children know they are a part of each of you, so when your children hear their mom say “Your Dad is a jerk!” or hear their dad say that “Your Mom is stupid!” then they are hearing that part of them is a jerk or part of them is stupid. Regardless of the words you use to put the other parent down (and those words are probably worse than “jerk” or “stupid”), you are directing those words at your children’s hearts, and you will crush them. Your children are listening.
Sadly, what I have just discussed is a part of far too many of my cases involving children. Parents, who are supposed to be the “grown-ups,” often think the children should know how horrible the other parent is. It is an extremely immature thing to think that your children cannot love you just as much if they also love the other parent. It is even more ridiculous to think that your children need to know how you really feel about the other parent. Let’s be honest, it’s not about your children at that point; it’s about selfish old you. Love your children. Put them first. Don’t let them hear one awful thing from you about their other parent.
Here’s my advice to my clients: Don’t run the risk of small ears eavesdropping by not saying a single disparaging word when the children are in your care. Tell your friends and family the same thing. And do not tolerate any disparaging words from anyone about the other parent on any blogs, Twitter accounts or Facebook pages.
Remember your love for your children, put them first, and protect their sweet little hearts.