Pizza bear monster! How could you possibly misunderstand that, when the state of Florida is obviously warning you to move to higher ground ahead of Hurricane Irma. The amateur sign language interpreter, the New York Times reminds us1, is now infamous for signing gibberish instead of warnings to seek shelter.

Everyone faces moments like that. As soon as the words are out of your mouth, you know they were the wrong words. To your boss, to your wife, to your bar buddies — you know it. Still, from adults to adults, poorly chosen words are far less likely to permanently scar as words from your mouth to your children’s ears. Here are five phrases, topics and thoughts never to say to your own kids about your divorce.

“Don’t Tell Her I Said This, But …”

Never pit your children against their mother. Your divorce is between you and your wife, not between you and your children. Using them as your unpaid psychologists, spies, or confidants is not the adult way to play.

The folks at Our Family Wizard put a kind face on this tactic, claiming some parents simply use their own children as a conduit between Dad and Mom. That, too, is a no-go, because your children are:

  • Not your messengers
  • Likely to be poor reporters of reality
  • Entitled to live without harboring adult secrets
  • Unlikely to give you unbiased answers to your questions

Our Family Wizard has a technology answer for leaving and receiving electronic messages, but you do not have to invest in a complicated system if you adult-up and realize you and your wife have to speak or send messages directly.

“Here’s Why Your Mother Sucks …”

Bluntly, talking down your ex-wife in front of your kids is absolutely horrific. Do not do it. She may no longer be your wife, and you may seethe with the anger of a thousand constipated camels whenever you think of her, but she is still your children’s mother. They deserve to love her without remorse or guilt.

Clearly if you and she divorced or are in the midst of divorcing, something between you and she did not click. We get that (we especially get that) and no doubt your children get it at some level. Yet the details of why you two do not click must be left to you, your able attorneys, and the Virginia judge overseeing your case. Leave your kids to enjoy Life with Father and Life with Mother.

“You are Exactly Like Your Mother!”

Wait a sec — you are divorcing or already divorced Mom, so you didn’t want to be around her, and now you’re saying I’m just like her? So you don’t want to be around me, either:

  1. You do not like your wife
  2. Your child is a Mini-Me of your wife
  3. Therefore (Q.E.D. as they say) you do not like your child

You may hem and haw that you did not intend that meaning, but what other meaning can you give such a statement you utter to a seven-year-old? recognizes the very real issue of parents genuinely not liking their own children. You can do something about it, but under no condition or circumstance should you telegraph to your own child that you do not love her or him unconditionally and without reservation.

“The Divorce is Expensive”

Money, really? You cannot subject children to the consequences of your financial decisions. We are not saying you have to spend beyond your means, and if a divorce becomes an unexpected expense, we realize you cannot also, perhaps, afford a vacation. Instead of advertising your financial woes to your own kids, though, keep that to yourself. Simply tell them this year’s vacation will not be as lavish as last year’s, or instead of one week-long cruise, you will take three smaller trips to a vacation cabin in a state park. (May we suggest Belle Isle State Park? It pairs nicely with a lovely little pop-up camper.)

“I Don’t Want to Hear It!”

Limiting your children from talking about the divorce, their mother, their concerns and emotions — that is not healthy. You probably have a full plate yourself, but you are the Dad, and part of your job is to listen. Make them feel comfortable with talking about both of you:

  • I like how Mom took us to Jungle Golf last weekend. Hole 14 with the giraffe was harder than most of the holes at Tom Gun mini golf, where you took us.
  • Mount Trashmore was so cool! Mom bought us new boards that cost like a million dollars!

Most kids are not saying these things in a calculated way to hurt your feelings. So what if you cannot afford new skateboards for them — you do Dad, and let Mom do Mom.

By calling our offices at The Firm For Men at 757-383-9184, or contacting us online, you can connect with a family lawyer for men who can provide wise counsel on dealing with your children throughout your divorce. We are strong advocates for men’s rights in Virginia, and we also work tirelessly to protect Virginia’s children. With offices in Virginia Beach and Newport News, we’re just a short drive from anywhere in Hampton Roads – call today!


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