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Is It OK for You to Bad-Mouth Your Ex?

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One single mom is wrestling with this question.

angry looking mom using telephone

Single Mom Seeking: A distraught single mom recently told us about her ex, who'd contacted her daughter to say that he'd try to celebrate her birthday with her. Of course, her daughter's hopes were raised. Her kid was so hopeful, in fact, that she called her girlfriend and canceled their party plans for the day.

Long story short, this father did NOT show up.

Understandably, this mom is furious. In the midst of any challenge, most of us do our best to put on happy faces in front of our kids. But isn't there a time and place when a mother has a right to show her anger in front of her kids?

"I know I can't change him," this mom says. "The big thing for me is that he constantly disappoints my girls by not keeping his promises. It's a setup to hurt them. And I'm left to pick up the pieces of my girls' broken hearts.

"Of course, I feel terrible for my girls," she adds. "But it hit me today that it's also so unfair to ME."

This mom wonders:
"Is it okay to show my girls how angry their father makes me?

"I don't have those super-human capabilities," she concludes. "Any mother who's asked to NOT show her feelings when her children are hurt ... well, it's too much to ask."

We'd love to know:

Is it right for a mother to express these feelings openly to her children? After all, there is a difference between expressing your anger and bad-mouthing your ex, right? Or, should this mom just remain positive in front of her daughter -- and refrain from showing her disappointment?

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9 comments so far | Post a comment now
momma November 5, 2009, 11:24 AM

I wouldn’t bad mouth him but I would sit my child down and explain that sometimes their dad makes bad choices and in doing so, lets them down and that in no way does it reflect on them. Most kids understand a lot than what we think they do. And if this happens often, I would tell my child that they shouldn’t put a lot of stock into their dad promises of visiting and have a backup plan of something to do with them if it happens so they’re not just sitting around upset by it.

Barbara November 5, 2009, 1:05 PM

I had the same thing happen to me and my two sons with their father. You want to wring his neck as you are sitting there with your children dressed and ready to go. But kids are smart, soon they know what the deal is with their dad and they learn. It is too bad that kids have to learn not to trust what their father says but that is not your fault. Just love your kids and they will be fine.

stepmom November 5, 2009, 2:31 PM

I have to point out that it’s not always the dads that do this… there are plenty of moms that do the same thing. Please remember that in split families not all dads are bad fathers and not all moms are good mothers. In our house, it’s the mom whose neck needs a good wringing.

Swati Bharteey November 5, 2009, 7:57 PM

Hi - as a woman who could spend day and night bashing my ex, I really sympathize with you…your kids are saddened and your plans are re-adjusted once again by someone’s thoughtless actions. I think for your kids’ sake, the best option is to ask them how they feel and when they tell you they are sad or upset, tell them you’d feel the same way - i.e. help them see their feelings are justified. Kids are so smart - they’ll have their dad figured out without you commenting on him (and really, why bother? The kids are more important). Save the true bashing for your diary, your friends and family, and online forums…your kids don’t need the stress of your ruined plans on top of the disappointment that is their dad.
- Swati

Tina November 8, 2009, 7:25 PM

Take it from someone who has 2 sons, from 2 past marriages who’s Father’s are the same way. Never change the plans you had already made just because the absent father or mother says they will PROBABLY, or TRY TO MAKE IT to their childs party or event especially when they are well known to never follow through just give them the information place and time when the party is going on let them know they are Welcome to Come, if they don’t like that option they can always make their own plans for the child/children. This way You are INSURED that your child/children will in no way be disappointed and the party still goes on. After a while they will know what to expect from the missing parent, without you bad mouthing them or getting upset. Remember there was a Good Reason You DIVOECED them.

Heather November 17, 2009, 11:53 AM

No, it isn’t all right to show your kids that you are angry with him. He is their father, and will always be their father. Would you want him bad mouthing YOU to THEM?

Always, always, always, think before opening your mouth.

As to him not showing, well… in the future, don’t cancel pre-made plans on the chance he might show up. Instead, tell him about the plans, and tell him that he is invited, if he wants to come. Tell him that after the event, he is welcome to take the kids for a little while, but that the plans for the day were already made ahead of time.

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Erinn Hund January 22, 2011, 10:53 PM

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