On several occasions, I have heard mothers talk about their ex-spouses in a derogatory manner. It is very disturbing when they do not try to hide their disdain, even when their children are present. Furthermore, they make negative comments about the new children that their ex-spouses may have.

Nobody has said that it is easy to accept that the person that we once loved has started his or her life over without us. It becomes complicated when it's the father of our children. It is hard to leave him out of our life.

It is important to remember that in order to have a full, healthy life, our children need a father and a mother. Separated and divorced parents must never assume that their children are separated or divorced from them. Mothers should understand that being a husband and a father are two different things. When you speak to your children you might think that you are speaking negatively about your ex-spouse, but in reality you are putting down their father.

Putting down your ex-spouse comes from a place of selfishness and cruelty. It affects the people that you most love, your children. It is your duty to provide them with a healthy physical and mental environment where they can have constant love, safety and harmony - one where resentment and negligence are absent.

You need to take two steps if handling your emotions and resentment toward your ex-spouse is overwhelming. The first step is accepting that you need help. The second step is to seek help immediately because the sooner you heal your pain, the easier it will be to avoid damaging your children's feelings.

If you don't do this, you will end up causing negative experiences, external bitterness and broken family bonds that go beyond the couple's relationship. If the children must ever judge their parents they should base their judgment on the role that their parents have played in their lives, rather than opinions instilled by the pain and frustration of the other parent.

Regardless of how you feel, you must teach your children to see the positive side of things so that they can accept changes easily. There is no doubt that it is a painful situation not only for them but also for the parents.

Some ways to help children keep a positive relationship with their father are:

  • Make sure that they do not feel guilty because of the separation.

  • Reassure them that mom and dad will always love them.

  • Remember that having new people in the family only means that there are more people to love and to be loved.

  • Don't refer to other children as "half siblings" because this will only make your children feel that they are not a real part of the family.

  • Avoid interrogating your children about your ex-spouse's private life.

  • Avoid fighting in front of the children.

  • Be flexible and negotiate.

  • Avoid speaking negatively about your ex-spouse and his new family.

  • Set aside individual time for your children.

  • Allow your children to express their feelings without judging or limiting them. Do not allow them to feel pity for themselves.

  • Avoid making your children feel guilty when they are with the other parent.

These recommendations alone will not magically solve all of the problems of a failed parental relationship. Nevertheless, they will decrease them and even though you are only one side of the story, at least you can feel peace that as a mother, you are doing everything in your power for your children's well-being.

*Translated and adapted by Anders Peterson from the original article "Mal esposo no es sinónimo de mal padre" by Yordanka Pérez

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