Ex and new husband turn my children against me….

by Rod Smith

“My ex-wife and her new husband misrepresent me to my three children (8, 10, and 12). When I see my children on weekends they are guarded and anxious. Where do I start to get my children to see they are being turned against me?”

ACT, Australia

ACT, Australia

It would be a good idea to sit down and talk with your ex-wife about how this situation is impacting you. The most important thing is that the adults work at the best solution for this transition for the children. Separation and divorce hits kids deeply. Remarriage on both parents’ parts must be as difficult, or even more so. It’s important for the children to talk about how they feel and what they think about what’s happening in their lives. Knowing that both sets of parents are working together will be helpful to the adjustments that are needed.



Avoid recruiting the children into the inevitable crossfire. This issue, real or perceived on your part, is an adult matter, and it is to be addressed by the adults. It requires an on-going conversation among all the adults. I do not mean dialogue through Email or phone calls. I mean regular, scheduled, face-to-face discussions; meetings where all the adults (parents and step-parents) sit together around a table and give focused time to discuss how each adult will play his or her part in appropriately providing and caring for the children. Is this difficult? Of course it is. Parenting is for adults. Step-parenting and co-parenting is for super-adults! The more the children see all the adults working together, talking together, and providing each other with appropriate support, the more likely the children are to turn difficult circumstances into personal strengths and assets – and the more likely they are not to “side” with one parent over another.



It is sad when children are asked to split their loyalties between parents. I wonder how they really feel about it? I can hear your fears that they are being turned against you… The best thing you can do is to continue being the best father you can be for them; no bribes, no turning them against their mother and new step-father, no spoiling them. Trust them. Children have an uncanny way of sensing when they are with people who are genuine. Take them to the park, have fun with them, respect them, and teach them to respect you, and their mother, and stepfather. They will then have no reason to feel guarded and anxious around you, and you will have no reason to feel anxious and defensive around them.

Midwest, USA

Midwest, USA

Your ex-wife and you are the parents, hopefully the adults in this equation. Therefore, it is your responsibility to find time and maturity to be able to talk about what is bothering you or what you suspect to be happening. The children have gone through a lot with your divorce and what they need is parents who can communicate with each other as their care givers. Talking to your kids will only serve to pull them further into the circle of anxiety, and doesn’t give them a chance to get out of the middle of your dance with your ex-wife. Talking about a person when he or she is not present is gossip, and is an attempt to gain emotional closeness. Don’t do as your ex has apparently done. Sort the matter out with her and her new husband, and leave your kids out of it. They will be very grateful to you for it.

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