OK, seriously. What is up with all the hateful talk about ex-spouses in the media right now?
Michelle Golland, Psy.D.: I understand these can be real, authentic feelings you are having, but please tell your therapist -- not David Letterman! I think Jon and Kate Gosselin unleashed Pandora's box of hatred for an ex and letting millions of people know about it. This is a BIG problem in our culture right now, and the only innocent victims are the children.
Anne Heche divorced Coley Laffoon in early 2009 after a two-year court battle over custody of their son, Homer, furniture, and alimony. The bitter divorce seems to have turned Anne into a very bitter person. She is humiliating her ex-husband, the father of her son, because she is required to pay him a monthly amount of child support, and was ordered by a judge to pay him half a million dollars in the settlement. This is what would happen if the financial earning roles were reversed, Anne, and I wonder if you would like being called a "lazy *ss." To me, this is further evidence of her instability, and it makes me question her parenting skills.
I think it is important to clarify the "soccer coaching" comments made by Anne. As a psychologist, I believe it is a good idea that a father wants to be involved in such a meaningful and connected way with his son. I also believe Anne should think more about Homer and his needs as a child than about her own need to vent on national television.
You may think it is cathartic to release your anger and rage in front of others, but you are really only damaging your children. Homer is 7 years old, and I am sure that if Anne is unable to control herself on David Letterman, she would have an equally hard time controlling her anger in front of her child. She is only shining a light on her own character flaws by behaving so poorly.
When you criticize, humiliate, or degrade your ex, you might as well say those same words directly to your child about their parent, because that is how they will interpret those words. Your children were created by both of you, and they feel equally connected to and protective of both parents, even if divorced. When you choose to be negative and take your frustrations out on your ex in front of your kids, they are hurt and confused. You lower their self-esteem and drive a wedge between yourself and that child.
As a mature and conscious parent, you are required to have grace, dignity, and respect for your ex whenever you are around your children (or on national television!). Your anger and frustration is not to be their burden.
|Dr. Michelle Golland is a USC graduate and a licensed Clinical Psychologist (PSY#16974). She works with adults, teens and is an expert in the field of marriage and relationships. Dr. Michelle Golland has given her expert advice on CNN, HLN, MSNBC, ABC, and Fox news. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two wonderfully exhausting children.|