H4HK FAQs: What Should I Do When My Parents Say Bad Things About Each Other?

Parents Say Bad Things About Each Other

H4HK FAQs are designed to answer questions kids and teens ask when facing difficult situations and circumstances in their lives.

Your parents would not have gotten a divorce if their relationship had not been strained in the first place.  In addition, divorce is a hard and stressful time, and many parents come out of a divorce with even more bitter feelings towards one another.  They should understand and appreciate that the other parent is still your parent and still important to you, but sometimes they mess up, forget that or ignore that fact and say things they shouldn’t say either to you or in front of you.

When your parents say bad things about one another, there are a few different things you should try to make the situation better.

  1. Remember that there are two sides to every story, and often when we tell stories or talk about other people we are biased by our emotions and circumstances. Make your own judgments about your parents based on your own knowledge and not based on second-hand stories or comments from one parent.
  2. Talk to your parents about the situation.  Tell them that you understand they may be upset with your other parent but that you still love them both and won’t pick one over the other.  Let them know that it hurts you to hear them saying negative things about the other parent.  Try to do this in a respectful way, but make it clear that your parent’s actions are hurting you as well, and ask them to stop talking badly about the other parent.  Hopefully this will be enough to get them to stop bad mouthing your other parent.
  3. If it is too difficult to have a conversation with your parent, write them a letter explaining the situation and asking them to stop.
  4. If you communicate with your parents and they continue to bad mouth the other parent, make a point of removing yourself from the situation next time one parent starts to speak negatively about the other.  It is not healthy for you to continue to listen to it.
  5. Remember that parents make mistakes too.  Try to forgive them even when they don’t ask for forgiveness.

Remember, no matter what one parent may say, you have the right to love both of your parents and have both of them in your life. Sometimes when one parent says something bad about the other, it is almost as if they are saying that thing about you. After all, you are one-half of each of your parents. Try not to take what your parents say personally, and remember that their words do not define who you are as a person or an individual. You are not defined by their choices or actions.

Find answers to other frequently asked questions on our H4HK FAQs Page. For more resources and information on divorce, family disruption and modern families please visit our Hope 4 Hurting Kids Divorce and Modern Family Help Center.

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Written by Wayne Stocks
Wayne is the founder and executive director of Hope 4 Hurting Kids. He is a happily married father of four kids with a passion for helping young people who are going through rough times. In addition to Hope 4 Hurting Kids, Wayne previously started I Am A Child of Divorce and Divorce Ministry 4 Kids to help kids who are dealing with the disruption of their parents' relationship. These are now part of Hope 4 Hurting Kids. Wayne speaks frequently at conferences and churches on issues related to helping kids learn to deal with difficult emotions and life in modern families. Wayne lives with his wife, three youngest kids, three dogs and an insane collection of his kids' other pets outside of Columbus, Ohio. In addition to his work with Hope 4 Hurting Kids, Wayne is a partner in a local consulting firm, an avid reader, coaches his son's soccer team and is a proud supporter of Leicester City Football Club (and yes, for those in know, his affinity for the club does predate the 2016 championship). You can reach Wayne at wayne@hope4hurtingkids.com.