But what should I do when my teen asks me, “Why does Mom/Dad always act like that?”
This is not the time to say how you really feel about your ex. What’s more important is trying to show an understanding for how your teen feels. I know you desperately want your kid to understand your feelings about your ex. You also want to shield your teen from unnecessary disappointment because it crushes you every time he gets stepped on emotionally.
Generally the best answer you can give is something along the lines of, “I don’t know.” Besides, your teen is not really looking for concrete answers. What he’s really looking for is emotional support. When he’s hurting as a result of a disappointing interaction with your ex, try to acknowledge those feelings in a nurturing way by listening (notice I didn’t say talking) and maybe a hug or two or seven.
Well, what am I supposed to do when my ex keeps brainwashing my kids against me?
This is never easy. You feel like you’re getting emotionally beat up by your whole family and that you don’t deserve it. You feel wrongly accused and convicted of being a monster. If your ex would just shut-up, maybe you could rebuild your relationship with your kids.
If this sounds like you, there is a way to handle this but it takes amazing courage, strength and patience. Your best approach in a nutshell is… don’t play the game.
“Don’t play the game?” What does that mean?
You know who you are and who you aren’t. If you truly want to prove to your kids that you are a good person and that you love them… show them, don’t tell them.
Like I always say, “Lead by example… especially when your kids don’t follow.” Your ex may be spreading lies, but you have the opportunity when you are with your kids to prove them all wrong. Not with your passionate defense, but with your respect, compassion, understanding and setting appropriate boundaries with your kids.
In other words, be the good parent that you know you are. In time, your kids will see through the lies because they won’t match your behavior and they’ll come around to seeing and loving the real you. Just be aware that it might take a while.
I don’t know. This all seems so overwhelming. Is there anything that could make this easier?