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BW is bad mouthing me to the kids

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HeavenBesideYou posted 6/7/2021 00:14 AM

So my STBXBW is bad mouthing me to the kids. I am the WH. We were having another conversation about custody today. Afterwards I told her I needed to talk to her about something. I started off tell her that when I speak to the children about her, itís alway in the highest regard. I praise her to the kids. I even go as far as making excuses for her when sheís not present and always remind them that she loves them very much. I then told her that I didnít like her bad mouthing me to them. She responded with, Iíve never done that. I told her that she did, she told my daughter that I am a liar. That I lie and to never believe anything daddy says. Her response to that was, well Iím not going to lie to them about you, Iím always going to tell them the truth, she said. I then asked her why she had to argue the fact with our 6 year old. She responded with, no I didnít. I then had to tell her I heard the whole thing so that she could stop denying everything. My daughter kept telling her that daddy is not a liar, my wife kept insisting that I am. They were going back and forth for at least 5 minutes. My wife finally said that sheís known me for 16 years so she knows me more. My daughter wouldnít accept that. This is going on with a 6 year old. It ended only cause my wife had to meet some people in her video game.

I found my daughter downstairs and she was sad. I asked her what happened. She told me mommy said you are a bad man, but youíre not and she wonít believe me. Told me that my wife never listens to her. I told my wife about this conversation and her only response was that it was her daughter too and she was never going to lie to them. I was trying to explain to her what sheís doing to the kids. My daughter recently started throwing tantrums and reverting to a baby. My son is wetting himself. They are not ok, and we really need to be working together. She just stared at me as Iím telling her this. I hit her with the, you always tell me how important the kids are to you, prove it!

I know that things get hard during a D and custody. What else can I do to stop this? What else should I say? How can I help my kids?

ChamomileTea posted 6/7/2021 02:49 AM

You know, it's a real shame that your situation has gotten so bad. Your first post here at SI was July 2018, is that right? So, for about three years now, your BW has been struggling to get a divorce. You've fought her every step of the way, and kept her waffling for a good bit, and I do think that's normal to some degree for WS's because it really is so hard to actually deal with the consequences of betrayal. Bottom line though, it's been YOU who has made this a protracted and exhausting process. And frankly, I don't think she's a bad parent. I think she's probably a tired woman who would just like to put all this behind her and have some peace at this point.

It might be good for you to go back and read all your earlier posts and see the kind of pressure you've put this woman through when clearly she didn't want to continue the marriage. Hindsight tends to be 20/20 if you look with new eyes. And sometimes, well... often really, the love doesn't survive the betrayal. As I read through your old posts, I see a woman who lost that loving feeling and for whatever reason just couldn't bring herself to be nasty enough to get you to stop trying for R. So, I'm not completely certain that your complaints are fair. You didn't want to take the children away from her while you were pressing her so hard for R, but now, when it's really over and the divorce appears to be happening, suddenly she's a horrible mom???

I'm not saying these things to be mean, really, I'm not. What I'm hoping is that you'll read through your old posts and maybe develop some compassion for this woman you once claimed to love. The best possible scenario for all of you would be cooperative parenting without all this acrimony. It doesn't matter if you don't agree with how your BW parents the kids. If she's not a danger to them, not a drug addict or a child abuser, there's NO REASON WHATSOEVER that she shouldn't have the same amount of parenting time as you, and vice versa. If the kids are eating fried bologna sandwiches and skipping their bath, that's not your business when it's HER parenting time. If she's drunk or high or she doesn't know where the kids are, THAT would be something to address with changes in parenting schedules.

Anyway, long post made shorter... why not try to go back to the drawing board and work out something more compassionate and more fair? Maybe if you set that example, she'll follow your lead and stop pushing for more too.

BluerThanBlue posted 6/7/2021 06:09 AM

First, if your kids come to you with stuff that your wife has said about you and itís causing them distress, document it and share it with your lawyer. Donít try to disprove anything and donít argue with your wife. It seems counterintuitive but keeping your mouth shut is the best thing you can do in an acrimonious divorce.

Second, this might not be your intention, but there is something manipulative about the way you go out of your way to tell your kids how much you love your wife, praise her, and make excuses for her.. even though you admit itís not how you actually feel. Therefore, you are lying them. It puts your wife in the position of having to be the bad guy who is breaking up the family while you get to be the hero nice guy.

Hereís how these interactions should go. Kid: ďMommy said xyz about you.Ē You: ďIím sorry youíre upset. I love you and I will always be there for you no matter what.Ē Kid: ďIím mad at mommy because of xyz.Ē You: ďTalk to Mommy about how youíre feeling.Ē Etc...

Lastly, inappropriate as your wifeís statements might be, you were a liar for most of your marriage. You cheated before you got married and so she entered into the marriage with you on false pretenses. You lied and cheated after the marriage as well.

You may well be the superior day-to-day parent and your wife a total lout. But the reality is that you made a deal with the devil... you traded out your kids happiness, well-being, and stability for momentary pleasure. You probably didnít see it that way at the time because you didnít think you would get caught, but you had to know the possibility of discovery and divorce always existed... and you made your choice anyway. Keep that in mind whenever youíre feeling yourself lapse into self-pity over how unjust your situation is.

[This message edited by BluerThanBlue at 6:13 AM, June 7th (Monday)]

Tigersrule77 posted 6/7/2021 06:28 AM

Chamomile, I don't think you addressed the OP's question at all. I understand we only have his side of the story, but the BW's actions certainly sound out of line. He is expressing concern for his children and that his BW is not showing any interest in co-parenting. It seems a reasonable question.

HBY, I do agree with the suggestion at the end. Essentially, you need to take the high road. Your discussion with your BW (from what you wrote) originally put the focus on her attacking YOU and YOU don't like it. Perhaps if you had pointed out how it was affecting your daughter first, your wife may have listened better. Perhaps something like this "BW, I know you are angry at me. I understand. I'm a man and I can deal with it. However, when you say things like "daddy is a liar" to our daughter and argue with her, it is causing her stress. We both love her and want the best for her, can we please focus on that?"

You are the WS. Your BW is going to say bad things about you. Suck it up. You could have ended a shitty M prior to the A, but you didn't. There are consequences to your actions.

It's D, it happens, it's normally ugly.

You might also suggest family counseling, to help all of you deal with your feelings. Maybe separate counseling for your kids.

HellFire posted 6/7/2021 08:12 AM

It's pretty common knowledge around here that cheaters lie.

So,during your affair, and the rekindling of the EA,not long ago, you never lied?

BluerThanBlue posted 6/7/2021 09:10 AM

TigersRule, I think the part of the conversation with BW and the kids that weíre missing here is that she is being put in a position where she has to defend her decision to divorce their dad. The kids love their Dad and Daddy says he still loves Mommy and that sheís wonderful, so why is she being so mean and ending their relationship?

So of course BW is pissed off... sheís in an impossible situation. She either keeps her mouth shut and lets her kids think sheís splitting up their home for no reason or she tells them the truth. Ideally, she could communicate the truth in a way thatís age-appropriate and considerate of their feelings... but she still wouldnít have any control over how the kids react to that knowledge after the fact.

Edit:add; HeavenBesideYou, I reiterate that you and your wife need lawyers to hammer out the details of your divorce and custody arrangements. For the sake of peace in your household, you should not have any conversations about these matters outside of a court room or lawyersí office. Nothing good will come of it.

[This message edited by BluerThanBlue at 9:16 AM, June 7th (Monday)]

Charity411 posted 6/7/2021 10:05 AM

I have had direct experience with this very issue. My EX-H left when my daughter was six, to go live with OW and her kids, who used to be good friends of ours.

My mom came to my rescue during that difficult time. I was running a business we owned until we could sell it. And after that had to have two jobs and to keep my house. So she often stayed at my house to babysit my daughter. I caught her numerous times calling my ex a liar and a bad father.

While I agreed, this was still my daughter's father, and it wasn't for me, my mom or anyone else to lobby a six year old about what she should think of him. It's inappropriate, period. I told my mom in no uncertain terms if she continued to do it she'd no longer be welcome in my home. Because at some point, it isn't about us as adults. We have to check our own emotions and resentments at the door when we are parenting. It's our job to try and instill some sense of security in our kids who are going through and even worse uncertain time than us adults are. As adults, we have choices. As kids, they just have to live with the results.

WhoTheBleep posted 6/7/2021 10:12 AM


Ideally, she could communicate the truth in a way thatís age-appropriate and considerate of their feelings

Sounds to me like she did use an age-appropriate explanation. She didn't tell the kids that Dad stuck his penis into a woman who wasn't their mother. She told them that Daddy lied. (None of us were there, so we don't know the context in which she said it. Filtered through a child, then back to a WS, and onto this forum, none of us reading here are getting the actual events as they occurred.)

That is essentially what I told my own small children. That Daddy lied. And once trust is broken, I would not be able to trust him again. And that they would understand moreso when they were older.

This post is a little triggery for me. My stbx is a perpetual victim. And I'm sensing that same victim mentality with HBY. Also the reference to religion... If I receive one more Bible verse in an email from stbx...

I don't want this to feel like an attack. My first impression was that this post might have been better off posted in the wayward form.

Many of us stay out of there for obvious reasons.

Coincidentally, I changed my signature line a few days ago. This is what BS's struggle with. HBY, your BS will struggle with this for the rest of her/your life. And you will struggle with the consequences where she is concerned, and possibly others. Please have some empathy and understanding about that.

[This message edited by WhoTheBleep at 11:20 AM, June 7th (Monday)]

dogcopter posted 6/7/2021 11:53 AM

It's just not ok to bring them into this at all. They don't deserve any of this.

I am very much of the opinion that you two have to find a way to be a united front on this. I know, not always possible. But a truce/ cease fire has to be obtained at any cost. No pride can be allowed to get in the way of that.

She is putting them in the middle of this by telling them. It's not ok. I'm sorry man.

BluerThanBlue posted 6/7/2021 16:17 PM

I think we all agree that parents shouldn't bad mouth each other, but neither must they serve as each other's public relations agents.

The kids are asking HBY's wife questions and are likely blaming her for the divorce, which puts her in the unfortunate position of being forced to choose between telling them truth or not telling them anything at all.

I disagree with WhoTheBeep that this question is better off for WW Forum. Most of the active WW members are reconciled or in the process of trying to reconcile. I think advice from the perspective of people trying to divorce and getting the insights from people who have been in your BS's position will be beneficial to you/

sickofsurviving posted 6/7/2021 18:18 PM

Wait. What???

You ARE aliar. You ARE a cheater. You may think you're a good person, but I think liars and cheaters are scum. Would you want your kid married to someone like you? I bet not.

Not your BS responsibility to lie to your children for you.

The1stWife posted 6/8/2021 06:49 AM


You may be right on the facts. However the childrenís best interest need to be taken into consideration. And sometimes as adults we have to make very hard choices.

In my opinion and experience working for a D attorney ó the parents need to preserve the parental relationship to the best of their ability. And sometimes that includes not bashing your spouse to the kids.

Itís just common sense here and what is best for the kids. In some cases the parent has no contact by choice. But in this case there is no reason to put the kids in the middle. Itís enough to know their father lied or cheated and the marriage ended.

The kids donít need to be put in the middle or be given TMI.

My friend married a serial cheating narc. Long drawn out D. She still lets her children see the X and never bad mouths him. Even after he threatened to kill her. Because itís still the childrenís father and she values their mental health and happiness.

HellFire posted 6/8/2021 07:39 AM

I've been reading this site for years.

The BS are 99% of the time,told to always tell the truth, age appropriately, when the kids ask questions,and the BS and WS are divorcing.

Here we have a BS doing JUST THAT. She's not telling their kids that they are divorcing because daddy cheated years ago, then restarted the affair with the same OW, for several months, years later,until he was caught. She's telling the kids dad lied. Because that's true, no matter what OP is trying to say. He hid contact with the OW,and lied about it. Dad lied. Mom is done.

Telling the kids dad lied is age appropriate. Odd that the typical advice of being honest and age appropriate has somehow changed suddenly.

[This message edited by HellFire at 7:40 AM, June 8th (Tuesday)]

BraveSirRobin posted 6/8/2021 08:18 AM

I agree that it's wrong for your wife to put your small child in the middle of this and try to force her to hate and distrust you. I also validate that your BW's experience is exactly what she is describing to your daughter. You are a liar, and your wife was badly hurt by trusting you. In her shoes, I hope I wouldn't do what she's doing, but I understand why she feels driven to it.

So for you, the big question is, are you more invested in exonerating yourself in your daughter's eyes or in presenting things to her in a way that helps her feel safe? It sounds like she believes it's her responsibility to defend you. You need to take that off her shoulders and tell her that she doesn't have to pick a side.

In your place, I would admit to your daughter that you understand why Mommy has a hard time believing Daddy. Tell her that Mommy doesn't trust you because you did something wrong and lied about it. It was a grownup thing, so all she needs to know is that you did it, and you lied about it, a bunch of times. Now you're sorry, and you know better, but that doesn't fix the hurt and distrust. It will be a long time before Mommy feels like she can believe Daddy, and that's understandable. BUT Daddy found out that lying really hurts people, and he doesn't ever ever ever want to do that anymore, so he will work hard to be someone that people can trust. DD can always trust Daddy, and that's ok. Mommy doesn't trust Daddy, and right now, that's ok, too. Sad, but ok. Mommy is hurting, and DD doesn't have to fix that. Daddy is hurting, but he will absolutely be ok. It's not her job to defend either one of you to each other. She can just love both of you and let the grownups figure it out for themselves.

[This message edited by BraveSirRobin at 3:46 PM, June 8th (Tuesday)]

The1stWife posted 6/8/2021 16:40 PM

The STBXW is ARGUING with a 6 year old.

Itís not appropriate.

She can tell the child why they are not together any longer. But what the STBXW is doing is wrong. Plain & simple.

The best interest of the child is most important and if you have to suck it up for the childís sake, you do. She doesnít need to argue with a young child over this.

barcher144 posted 6/8/2021 18:17 PM

Her response to that was, well Iím not going to lie to them about you

Actually, she *should* lie to the kids about you.

She could say that Daddy did something really bad and leave it at that. She could say that Mommy and Daddy still love you and take care of you, as always.

The problem here is that the affair is trickling down to the kids. That needs to stop.

In my divorce, we had non-disparagement clauses. My ex violates them all of the time because there is no enforcement.

In your case, you should talk to your attorney about what to do. California is a two-party consent state for recording conversations, but I don't know if this applies to your minor children (because, theoretically, you would be the one consenting, right? I don't know... I'm not a lawyer).

The other thought would be to get your kids to a therapist immediately and then use that therapist as a witness. That might not work either, as all of the therapists that I have met refuse to get involved in legal matters.

ChamomileTea posted 6/8/2021 19:03 PM

So for you, the big question is, are you more invested in exonerating yourself in your daughter's eyes or in presenting things to her in a way that helps her feel safe? It sounds like she believes it's her responsibility to defend you. You need to take that off her shoulders and tell her that she doesn't have to pick a side.

In your place, I would admit to your daughter that you understand why Mommy has a hard time believing Daddy. Tell her that Mommy doesn't trust you because you did something wrong and lied about it. It was a grownup thing, so all she needs to know is that you did it, and you lied about it, a bunch of times.

I agree with this ^^^. Did you straighten your daughter out? Did you tell her that mommy was right and that daddy DID tell some lies? Because if you didn't, how is that not "gaslighting" her?

Don't get me wrong, I don't agree with exes bad-mouthing each other in front of the kids. But your BW isn't here and you are... and we can only control ourselves, not anyone else. It occurs to me that there are still some things that you can do to deescalate this situation and most of that has to do with attitude. You believe you're a superior parent and your attitude is poisoning the well with your STBX. Your better bet is to get back in your own lane as a 50/50 co-parent and start acting that way. You can add a non-alienation clause to your divorce as Barcher suggested, but otherwise, stay out of your ex's business unless she becomes a truly "unfit" parent. Right now, your complaint is basically that your BW told the truth about you. But how did you overhear it?... obviously, you're still in her space YEARS after she told you she wanted out. It's little wonder if you're on her last little nerve and then you hit her with your parental superiority complex, which is just going to be viewed as an attempt at continued control.

I'm just saying, try looking at the situation from her POV. Maybe you guys can still work it out so that you won't have to fight it out in court for YEARS just to end up broke from attorney's fees, hating each other, and still doing the same 50/50 you ought to have done from the beginning. Like I said in an earlier post, it doesn't matter if you don't agree with what she does on HER time. You will have your own time to do things your way. As long as your children are safe, you can each stay in your own lane. Who knows? Your STBX might become a much more hands-on parent when you're not around taking up the slack while she does her best to avoid you. You asked, "What else can I do...?", and THIS is something you can do. Drop the superior attitude, shelve whatever resentment that your BS wants out of the marriage, and work WITH HER to create a good 50/50 system you can all be happy with. When you're at an impasse, someone's got to be the first to be willing to negotiate.

dogcopter posted 6/8/2021 19:52 PM

Actually, she *should* lie to the kids about you.

Yes, you have to leave them completely out of this.

gmc94 posted 6/8/2021 22:43 PM

It find it interesting that your posts are HIGHLY critical of your BW, until someone calls you out, and then we get the "I did all I could" stuff. From my perspective, none of your posts (until called out) showed much compassion or empathy for what you put your FAMILY through by cheating.

Doesn't mean you or your kids should be punished about it forever.
Does mean that maybe you aren't as "changed" or enlightened as you want to believe.

I wrote this on your last thread.
You replied from what I perceived to be a victim perspective, eg, that your IC sees a big change. And that is wonderful... except that I don't know what your particular starting point may have been (starting from negative 100 and getting to negative 50 is great progress... but you still aren't even close to break even), and the tone of your posts seems devoid of empathy and compassion and ownership of YOUR choices and their impact upon everyone in your family (esp your XBW).

And let's not forget something we see said on SI all the time.... you can ONLY control yourself.
Which means you can't control your ex BW - any more than she was able to control you (or your choice to have an A, which is obvious to anyone carries the risk of D, but I assume is/was wholly irrelevant when it's time to unzip one's trousers).

Should your XBW explain what happened in an age appropriate fashion? Yup.
Should she EVER lie to protect your image? Nope.
Should she be arguing about your being a liar with a 6yo? Nope.
Can you change her behavior? Also nope.

are you more invested in exonerating yourself in your daughter's eyes or in presenting things to her in a way that helps her feel safe? It sounds like she believes it's her responsibility to defend you. You need to take that off her shoulders and tell her that she doesn't have to pick a side.
THIS is what it boils down to. And I don't know if that is "only" not having to pick a side... I think it includes owning your choices and communicating that - in an age appropriate way - to your kids.

[This message edited by gmc94 at 10:45 PM, June 8th, 2021 (Tuesday)]

99problems posted 6/11/2021 09:01 AM

Yeah, as much as I hate to say it, the BW is wrong (Assuming we are getting the whole, truthful story here).

Putting labels on Dad (liar) is not ok. Saying he lied and that mom and dad had to break up is one thing, but telling the kid to never believe the other parent is another.

I don't have any advice for OP, he can figure out what to do. Just thought I'd share the opinion.

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