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Well, the first thing I want to say is that I’m sorry. Even if this divorce is the “right” thing ultimately, I know it’s hard when it’s happening. It can feel like you are caught in the middle. I hope you have a good friend or support person that you can talk to about it all.
Okay, your question: what should you do about your mom trash-talking your dad? What’s your mom like? Is she normally someone that is a good listener? Someone that takes your opinions in to consideration? If so, she may just really be stressed out from what’s going on, and not able to make her usual good choices. Honestly, that’s the best case scenario–because if she’s just really stressed out, she’s still your normal mom underneath and might be able to hear you if you talk to her about how what she’s doing makes you feel.
Here’s a sample script you might try:
Mom, I love you and I can see that the divorce is really stressing you out. I’m sorry that things are tough right now. I have a request about that, though. When you talk bad about Dad, I feel bad. I know he is not acting great right now, but even still he’s my dad. To help me with my own stress, can we take a break from talking about Dad for a while?
Two other ideas:
- Develop a catch phrase that you use in those situations. A catch phrase is something you say, every time, the same way, like “I don’t know, I don’t like talking about this stuff.” Or, “I’m sorry you’re feeling upset mom.”
- Or, see if you can remove yourself from the room. Simple, but can be quite effective.
Now, if your mom hasn’t always been a good listener, if she tends to get a little too upset when you have your own opinions, then talking to her might not help much because she might just get mad at you and accuse you of taking his side. That’s a hard place to be, but if that’s the case, then it might help you to work on trying to change your feelings.
One technique for changing our feelings is to change your thoughts. Stop for a moment the next time you’re in this situation, and listen to what’s in your head. Then, see if you can craft a different message. You might tell yourself something like:
- “I’m okay, she’s just mad, this will be over in a minute” or,
- “Smile & nod and leave the room”
The other big advice I want to give you is that your life could benefit from having either someone for you to talk to, or a professional that can talk to your parents. A school counselor, family therapist or a family friend–someone that can be a good listener for you, and/or give good advice to your parents about how they are handling things.