You probably know of at least one situation where one parent has made it difficult for the other parent to maintain a positive relationship with their child after a split, right? Sadly, it’s not uncommon.
Take Brian, for example. His ex-wife, Jennifer, constantly made it difficult for him to see their son, Jeremy. Jennifer would agree on a date and time for Brian to pick up Jeremy, and then he would drive almost two hours to see his son, only to find that nobody was home when he got there. Jennifer would make some excuse about having an emergency and say that her phone wasn’t working, but this kind of thing would happen so often, Brian knew she was deliberately trying to keep him from seeing his son.
Then there is Anna, who was hoping to maintain a good relationship with her children’s father, Chris, but he was so bitter about her refusal to get back together with him, he retaliated by attempting to poison her relationship with their son and daughter. He would tell them it was their mother’s fault that the family was no longer together, and would call her stupid and selfish in their presence. The children would then turn on Anna, blaming and disrespecting her, because they learned from their dad that she deserved it.
Many situations similar to these have been dragged through the court system. In case after case, the parents were ordered to foster a positive relationship between the child and the other parent. They were required by the court to speak nicely to the child about the other parent, to have the child ready for that parent at the agreed-upon time, and to help the child to look forward to seeing the parent.
The legal relevance of one parent’s attitude and behavior toward the other comes into play on a case-by-case basis of course, but the best general rule when co-parenting with an ex is to nurture a positive relationship between your child and their other parent. Regardless of how you feel about your ex and whatever your personal history with them is, by giving your child an opportunity to have a healthy relationship with their other parent, you are contributing to the child’s well-being, which should be the priority in the situation. It is also very common for children to resent a parent who tries to taint their relationship with the other parent, so even if it is just to preserve your own relationship with your child, it is wise to remain respectful and supportive of your ex, at least in the children’s presence.