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Exes Get Even in Public

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How does airing dirty laundry affect the kids?

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This week, a vile voice mail Charlie Sheen left for ex-wife Denise Richards was leaked online. In it, he called Denise the n-word, and he's since issued a public apology--not to Richards, but to his African-American best man.

But Richards, who often vents about Charlie on her E! reality show, makes no apologies. "The gloves are off," she told TV Guide. "When I keep my mouth shut, [Charlie] continues to fuel [the feud] anyway, so I'm not gonna sit back anymore."

This is just the latest in a long string of bitter exes getting even with their jilted lovers in a very public way.

When Alec Baldwin's hate-filled voice mail to his daughter was released (in which he called her a "thoughtless little pig"), he placed the blame squarely on ex-wife Kim Basinger, with whom he's been embroiled in a bitter divorce and custody battle for years.

MTV Road Rules star Kendal Sheppard went off on her baby's dad, actor Josh Henderson of Desperate Housewives, on her MySpace page on Father's Day. She wrote: "A feeling of anger and rage sweeps my body when I think of little Asa's biological deadbeat dad."

Of course, these aren't the only people to air their dirty laundry online or in print ... Mia Farrow, Dina and Michael Lohan, the YouTube divorce woman ... the list goes on and on.

But one has to wonder: How does this affect the kids?

Divorce recovery coach Suzy Brown, author of Radical Recovery: Transforming the Despair of Your Divorce into Unexpected Good, says, "This type of vitriolic public expression is very harmful for kids," she says. "After all, children these days are getting online younger and younger"--and that means as soon as they're old enough to Google, all of this negative information about Mommy and Daddy is just a click away.

Remember, she says: No matter how you feel about your ex, he's still your kid's father. "Spewing all the hatred is damaging to your children because he is still your kid's parent, no matter what," says Brown, who was divorced in 2000 and is a mother of four. She says parents' public battles can stress a kid out, strain their relationship with both parents, and damage their self-esteem. "Getting revenge rarely works. It's very detrimental for the kids when all this negativity is out there for everyone to see."

According to Brown, it's natural to experience feelings of grief, anger, and despair. But you can never move forward if you are still harboring those feelings of hatred. "You just have to figure out how to move on, especially for your kids," she says. "People always say how terrible divorce is for children, but we can teach them some very valuable lessons by our behavior if we make the right choices. You can teach kids to how to work through emotions and control their anger. You can't always keep yourself from being angry or sad, but you can control the way you deal with those feelings."

What do you think of these exes getting even online?

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