Prosecuting parents for insulting each other

Filed under: Just For Moms, Just For Dads, Divorce & Custody, Activities: Babies, Sex

Australian parents had better think twice before they start sniping at each other in front of the kids. Australian courts, recognizing the emotional damage that parents hurling insults at one another can have on young children, are moving to put a stop to it. In one case, an estranged couple was ordered by a judge to cool it in front of their daughter. Apparently mom couldn't help herself and continued to insult dad within earshot of the kid. The judge considered that behavior when awarding custody and ultimately, mom lost.

According to Dianne Gibson, director of child dispute services at the Family Court, any alarm that parents might feel about this judicial interference into the private lives of parents is justified. "They may say it's just playful banter, but it's not banter from the point of view of children. Derogatory comments really do have a harmful impact."

"I think we underestimate how traumatic it is for children to be in a constant war zone, with their mother and father lobbing verbal grenades at each other," said Gibson. "We now have enough knowledge and research to know that this isn't good for kids. Parents need to back off and not slag each other off every time they see each other or when they pick up the phone."

I could not agree more. It may seem painfully obvious to many that saying things like "He never amounted to anything" about a child's father would be hurtful to that child. But I am constantly amazed at the things I hear couples say about one another in front of their children. I do get mad at my husband and sometimes Ellie is the only person around to whom I could vent. But I bite my tongue. Besides the pain these insults can cause your child, learning to control yourself is part of being an adult. If you can't do it, how can you expect your child to?

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.