Do you think your ex might be abusing your kids? You have a history with him, and you should be the first to know if he is a likely abuser. He may be a jerk in all other respects, but do you really think he’s hurting the children you have together? Here are some questions you can ask yourself to decide.
1. What was your ex like when you were together? Was he violent with the kids? Did she yell at them a lot? Unless your ex suddenly started abusing drugs and alcohol, his attitude toward your children probably hasn’t changed. It is doubtful that a parent who was attentive and loving most of the time would suddenly turn into a violent and cruel person just because you’re no longer together.
2. Can you talk about it? In many child custody disputes, a court battle could have been avoided if the parents had just talked together. Kids are observant. If they sense that making false claims, or saying unkind things about the other parent will cause things to go their way, they aren’t above manipulating their parents. If both of you are already feeling guilty for the marriage or partnership ending, your kids are not going to be above taking advantage of your volnerability.
They aren’t necessarily telling you the whole story. They could just be hoping that your rules are different from the other parent’s, and that it would be easier to get what they want from you.
Ask your ex what is going on. Don’t be too quick to act if your child accuses him of being mean or unkind. Just go to his or her home, explain what the child has said, and work together to figure out what could be prompting the report. You may find that the other parent’s explanation is logical, and that the child’s view is tempered by immaturity and the desire for some short term gain.
3. Do you know your ex’s new spouse or significant other? Are there step children in the mix? Get to know all of the people in your child’s life. You don’t have to love them, or even like them. However, being able to have a civil conversation with all of the people who spend time with your child is the best way you can monitor how things are going in the other parent’s home.
There are situations that call for one of the parents to protect the children from the other. You should never allow your child to suffer mistreatment from anyone, including his other parent, her friends or relatives. You have an obligation to protect your child from anyone who would harm him or her.
Nevertheless, falsely accusing his other parent of cruelty does not enhance your child’s life, and can make an already volitile situation even worse. You may never love or trust your ex, and that is understandable. No matter what caused your marriage or partnership to end, it wasn’t something good. However, your child’s relationship with your ex is different, sacred, and should be protected by both of you as zealously as possible.