Diss Your Ex, Take a Trip to the Slammer?

Amy Keyishian

Tug of War
The parental tug-of-war: never worth it
Since I'm a stepmom, this one lies near and dear to my heart. It's one more persuasive reason not to put down your ex in front of your kids: According to the New York Post, a judge gave jail time to a mom who told her daughters their dad, her ex, was a "deadbeat," "loser," and "scumbag," among other lovely things.

She was sentenced to six weekends in jail -- to be served when the kids are on their weekends with dad.

Can you think of a better cautionary tale, reminding you to look for ways to get along with even the most vile ex? Whatever else happened between these two, surely it didn't have to come to this.

Court papers show that in addition to name-calling, the mom planned last-minute trips with her daughters on her ex-husband's weekends (knowing that if he objected, the girls would get angry at him for making them miss a fun time -- oy, do I know this tactic all too well!) and made the girls feel bad if they had fun on Dad weekends.

She sounds like prime Real Housewife material -- except this isn't a staged reality show, it's just plain reality. I know, from experience on both sides of the fence, how painful it is for kids when the parents can't get along. And I also know it's never just one parent's fault.

I also know that many parents know better than to out-and-out name-call, but that plenty opt for more subtle, and I'd argue more painful, ways of showing their disapproval of the ex. They range from giving young children way too much information about the reason for the divorce (I know one mom who said, "The divorce is daddy's fault because he sexed with other women," and maintains this was information her 7-year-old needed despite years of trauma as a result), telling the kids they're sooooo lonely on their weekends away, or making the kids feel disloyal for enjoying time with the other parent.

I've also seen parents complain to the kids that the other parent won't be more friendly. Hey, a little healthy distance is okay, too.

Believe me, I know how hard it is to be cordial with a detestable ex. And it's a horrible irony that ridding yourself of a dreadful relationship just means you have to work harder at getting along. But get along you must -- even if jail time isn't on the horizon, confused and sad kids can be. And I'd rather go to jail than make P miserable for no good reason.

So: How do you make peace with a schmucky ex? How do you make the first move when, really, you just want to wring his neck?

Photo via PollyPeterson/Flickr

Read More