The practice of parents badmouthing one another after a divorce is all too common. However, badmouthing will always exacerbate challenging circumstances, regardless of whether it is motivated by recent rage, irritation, or persistent hatred.
You and your co-parent may make the odd sarcastic remark about one another, but if that happens very infrequently (and is remedied with an apology to your co-parent and a lesson to the kids about proper conduct), badmouthing is unlikely to cause long-term harm.
However, constant badmouthing is harmful.
When children start to see badmouthing as a regular activity, it needs to be addressed. There are a variety of consequences it may have for kids. Criticism can:
- Negatively impacts a child’s bond with the offended parent.
- Affect the child’s bond with the parent who is disparaging them.
- Teach kids that it’s okay to put other people down.
- Lead to kids internalizing insults and derision
Choosing not to badmouth your co-parent is a wise first move. The last thing you want is a pattern of worsening behaviors, and if neither of you is fanning the fires, that is far less likely to happen.
However, what can you do if someone is disparaging you? It may originate with your co-parent, but it may also be the result of other people, including their family and friends. There are healthy tactics you can use to lessen the impact that badmouthing has on your life and the lives of your children, even if the reality is that you cannot control their behavior.
Tips to Lessen the Impact of Badmouthing
The following are pointers to help you deal with badmouthing.
#1. Don’t Let Their Misbehavior Dictate How You React.
It might be challenging to resist the impulse to intervene and defend yourself when someone is speaking negatively about you.
However, if you react too quickly, you’ll be allowing them to control how you communicate. Even worse, if you reply in a heated exchange, you could be tempted to criticize the other person as well.
Initially, it could seem unjust to ignore the conduct. You might also persuade yourself that your anger is justified and that any reaction it elicits is justified. But no matter how fair the circumstances are or how well-founded your answer is, it won’t happen in a vacuum.
Your children will be paying attention, and they will be watching you learn how to handle difficult circumstances like these. If both of their parents give in to back-and-forth criticism, they’ll have to look elsewhere for positive examples of how to handle criticism.
Refrain from going on the defensive or badmouthing things in return. Keep your composure and concentrate on having a useful conversation rather than adding to the slander.
#2. Keep Your Attention on what Matters
How much effort should you put into caring about what your co-parent believes or says about you in the end? The effort you put into your relationship with your children and the kind of role model you try to be for them is what matters.
It will surely hurt to hear that someone is badmouthing you, especially if they are criticizing your parenting. It might even affect how you feel about yourself and make you question how well you get along with your kids. Although it’s not always simple, try not to let it cast a negative light on your day. Keep a good attitude and focus your attention on your confident parenting.
Do not be alarmed if your kids inform you that they overheard someone disparaging you. So that your kids can continue to confide in you, and talk about the topic in a neutral manner. Use this as a chance to talk with your children about badmouthing in general, how it impacts individuals, and how we can react when someone starts badmouthing a loved one to us.
Your children shouldn’t ever feel pressured to speak up for you, but they should be given the means to express how the criticism makes them feel.
Make sure your child feels supported when they come to you with this information, as that is the most important thing. It’s important to periodically check in with them about their sentiments and frustrations since it can be detrimental to hear one parent criticize another.
#3. Take Action to Put a Halt to it
One of your first thoughts might be how you can stop them when you hear that your co-parent or someone else is disparaging you. It’s crucial that you take constructive steps to stop the slander rather than give it more time. If it’s your co-parent, speak with them directly and request that they cease making disparaging remarks. Even if it’s a friend or cousin of your co-parent, you should still think about asking your co-parent for assistance in changing this behavior. Make sure your kids are not present during this chat because they should never be forced to witness arguments or uncomfortable discussions between their parents.
If you can’t communicate well with your co-parent, think about getting advice from a professional who is a neutral third party. If you feel like you need further help, think about talking to your lawyer.
Anyone who is being disparaged behind their back doesn’t want to hear about it. Try your best to handle these situations in a healthier way when they do occur and have the potential to affect your kids. Find the best ways to put an end to the nasty conversation while remaining calm and impartial.
These are a few signs that one is badmouthing you;
#1. Their Personality Appears to be Distinct
It’s likely that you’ll notice slight variations in a person’s regular behavior if they were just talking about you. Do they carry themselves in a different way? Is their laughter off-key? Do they give you a different greeting?
The biggest [indicator] is that they act differently with you than they generally do. When people feel anxious and fear being “found” to have done something wrong, such as talking about you behind your back, their behavior deviates from the baseline of typical interactions with the people they know. The more familiar you are with them, the simpler it will be for you to detect these minute changes.
#2. The Space Becomes Quiet
When you go into the room, if everyone is tense, there’s probably a good reason for it. For instance, “it’s a fair bet you were the topic of conversation just before you came, and [it’s conceivable] the chat was not nice when the individuals there are speaking softly and suddenly become quiet.”
Even though you might not want to do it right away, it might be a good idea to talk to the person about it, particularly if you have to see them frequently or they hold a special place in your heart. Even though situations like this can be uncomfortable, they can be handled properly.
#3. They Appear Extremely Uncomfortable
Want to verify your suspicions? Try talking to the person and pay attention to how they react. Give advice. Do they still appear uneasy? Is their behavior toward you out of the ordinary, or do they swiftly try to finish [or] change the topic while turning to the others as they do so?
If you observe any of these actions, the person “may be indicating nonverbally that they are suppressing something, are uneasy with you, and wish to avoid engaging with you.” And that can reveal a lot to you.
#4. They Freeze
It’s possible the gossiper may experience a fear response upon seeing you enter the room, even when nobody is in danger. They may display their dread in one or more limbic systems, which activate in “reaction to threat.” You might notice their eyes enlarge, they might freeze, or they might even want to flee rapidly because it’s all part of the fight-or-flight reflex. However, keep in mind that just because someone appears to freeze as if they were being observed doesn’t mean they necessarily said something unfavorable. Hey, they might be organizing an unexpected birthday celebration!
#5. They Appear Stiff
The uneasiness they brought into the room may also have led the person to become a little stiff. They may stiffly smile and say hello which might shorten or lengthen the customary welcome. They might suddenly look terribly unauthentic, whatever it is. But remember that people behave in this way for a variety of reasons. It’s crucial not to assume the worst or jump to conclusions because someone with social anxiety, for instance, could come off as stiff.
#6. They Compensate Too Much
If someone is acting much friendlier than usual, that is unquestionably an indication that something is off. Someone may attempt to overcompensate if they are discovered doing something wrong or if they are unsure of what to do next. In an effort to “cover over the unpleasant things they said, they may extend a handshake, a hug, or extend the time they speak your name.” It’s crucial to keep in mind, though, that they might not necessarily be speaking poorly about you. For instance, they may act friendlier than normal because they are telling someone else that they are worried or concerned about you.
People respond differently to badmouthing, but here are a few guidelines that can help
#1. Don’t Put up a Fight
It’s only reasonable to feel the need to defend oneself when someone distorts the truth in order to spread lurid, incendiary stories about you. Defy the desire! Giving your ex another platform to stand on their self-righteous pedestal and tell you 97 more awful things about yourself will only serve to fuel their self-righteousness. The defamatory remarks made by your ex are hurtful, but they are also false. Recite this phrase to yourself whenever you feel the need to defend yourself: “What my ex thinks about me is none of my business.”
#2. Use Reassuring Language
Use disarming phrases to politely reject your ex’s invitation to a verbal or electronic/textual massacre, such as “you may be correct;” I’ll give it some thought; I apologize that you feel that way. Your ex anticipates your outrage. While acting calmly and without emotion may look like “caving in,” the reverse is actually true. By breaking up a quarrel, you aren’t supporting your ex; instead, you are regaining control.
#3. Don’t Try to Be as Intense as Your Ex
Think of your ex as a little child exhibiting tantrum behaviors. What’s the best course of action in a given circumstance? Why not throw your own fit? Or keeping your cool and establishing boundaries? It’s not necessary to reply to every threatening text, email, or voicemail. Alternately, you may say: “It sounds like you’re upset. In my opinion, we won’t be able to get far with this discourse. I’ll be pleased to talk about this when you’re done being furious. Hold your ground and remain silent if your ex responds by hurling additional insults at you.
#4. Speaking to Your Children
You need to take action if your kids have fallen for your ex’s propaganda. The equivalent of denying the presence of the elephant in the room is pretending everything is alright. Your ex is trying to undermine your bond with your kids and their capacity for critical thought. Even while you can’t make your ex stop, you can take steps to tell your side of the story.
Why do people badmouth about others?
People badmouth other for different reasons and purposes but the primary goal of disparaging people is to degrade them and make them feel awful by fostering a fearful atmosphere.
What do you do if your ex bad mouths you to your child?
ADVISE ON IT. Don’t ignore it if your ex calls you names, insults you or speaks harshly to you in front of the kids. Don’t feel guilty if it takes you by surprise the first few times; nevertheless, try not to allow it to become a regular occurrence. Talk to your ex about it.
What to do when the other parent is bad-mouthing you?
What to do if one parent criticizes the other. After you’ve got a chance to speak with your children, approach the individual who is badmouthing you. Asking them to stop badmouthing you to your children while maintaining composure throughout the conversation is a good idea.