Most of my blogs have dealt with parental alienation and avoiding bad talk about the other parent. However, there are a few times that kids need to know things about a parent that are less than desirable. This can be a difficult discussion to have, especially if you are the type of parent that tries to not talk poorly about the other parent. Although, these discussions are difficult they are sometimes necessary. I thought I would share a portion of a piece written by Dr. Richard A. Warshak titled When Kids Need to Know Bad Things About a Parent. This is adapted from his book, Divorce Poison: How to Protect Your Family from Bad-mouthing and Brainwashing.
Although this piece is about telling children the necessary bad things, he does make it clear that the first priority should always be a commitment to shield children from unnecessary stress and destructive communications. He also warns that before discussing the bad things about the other parent, always consider your motives first. If you firmly believe and are convinced that the other parent is bad and the children should know about it, he suggests that you take the Washak Test.
If your answer does not always go back to the children’s best interests, then you should not tell the child the information. Your number one motivator should always be their best interest. The information should never serve the purpose of your getting revenge, needing to feel superior, or placing blame and guilt.
If you determine that it is in the best interest of the children to know the information, do so in a manner that minimizes the harm.
Thinking of the situation in this way, it challenges you to think of the most rational and constructive method. If you were happily married and could find a way to discuss or minimize the harm, you would do it. Even with all the hurt feelings and terrible emotions that a divorce brings, you should try to use the same discretion.
To read the full document, click here. Contact Hickey and Hull Law Partners to schedule a consultation to help you with all your family law needs. The River Valley office number is 479.434.2414 and the Northwest Arkansas office number is 479.802.6560 or contact us via our website.
Source: Washack, R. A. (2011). When Kids Need to Know Bad Things About a RParent. Washack. www.washak.com.