RelationshipsQ&A: "My ex-husband badmouths me, makes it hard for me to see my son, and makes it to the point that my son is scared to spend his 50% custody time with me. How do I deal with this?"

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My ex-husband badmouths me, makes it hard for me to see my son, and makes it to the point that my son is scared to spend his 50% custody time with me. How do I deal with this?

First of all, let me say that there is good news for you, and you are not without hope in this difficult situation!  Some of what I’ll recommend, you may already be doing, but hopefully, this will give you some encouragement and helpful insight.

First, be reconciled to God.  You cannot be rightly related to others until you are rightly related to God (2 Cor. 5:17-21).  The reason for this is because your ability to love others depends on your ability to understand and receive God’s love (1 John 4:7-11, 20-21).  You won’t have either the power or the desire to love someone who is mistreating you without the supernatural grace of God.  Likewise, you won’t be able to be kind or forgive until you realize how much you have been forgiven in Christ (Eph. 4:32).

Second, seek peace with your ex-husband.  The Bible says, “As far as it depends on you, live at peace with all men” (Rom. 12:18).  The implication here is that peace may not be possible sometimes with some people, simply because they are unwilling.  However, as far as it depends onyou – seek to have a peaceable relationship with your ex.  If you are doing anything to contribute to further hostility in the relationship, repent of that immediately, and begin to change the way you interact with him.

Third, live a life that is above reproach.  In other words, don’t give your ex-husband any reason to “bad-mouth” you.  Of course, because of his own selfishness, pride, and unwillingness to forgive, he may continue to slander you, but just make sure that you don’t contribute to the problem by responding in foolish, angry and hurtful ways.

Fourth, entrust your life and reputation to God.  If Jesus “…made Himself of no reputation” (Phil. 2:5-8) then you and I should be willing to do the same.  The Bible tells us that the reason Jesus endured shame and mistreatment was because of the joy and hope that something better was coming (Heb. 12:2-4)!  His humility and suffering made our salvation and a new relationship with Him possible!  The point is, sometimes God allows short-term suffering to accomplish long-term good (Rom. 8:28-29).  Furthermore, if you are a Christian, you ought not to be surprised at trials when they come, but rather entrust your soul to your faithful Creator (1 Pet. 4:12-19) knowing that He will not only bring you through it faithfully, but reward you eternally!

Fifth, remember that your son is also in God’s hands.  If you’ve never done so, I recommend taking some time to read the story of Joseph’s life in the Old Testament (Gen. 39-50).  There are manylessons to be learned from it, but one of the most encouraging is simply this: God was with Joseph! This young person went through the most extraordinary unfairness and mistreatment in his life, but God was with him through it all!  Mother, don’t ever forget, God is with your little boy.

Sixth, redeem the time and grow.  Trials are for growing.  Don’t waste this time.  This is when your roots (faith) can go deeper, and your love (fruits) can grow stronger.  None of us gets through life unscathed.  I don’t know the specific lessons God may be trying to teach you, but I know this much – He loves you, and is teaching you something.  Don’t miss it!  Don’t let Satan discourage or distract you from simple trust in God.  Embrace the trial, and glean every bit of character and faith you can out of it.  You will be blessed, and so will your boy.

Seventh, know your purpose and live with joy.  Too many parents let others control how they feel about themselves, and intimidated about how they choose to parent their children.  If you know your purpose and position in Christ, then nothing your ex-husband, or even the devil himself will ever do can steal your joy.  This will go a long way to securing the heart of your boy as well.  Spend your time in God’s Word and with God’s people, and you find God’s purposes being worked out in both you and your son, and you won’t be so easily manipulated.

Eighth, resist the temptation to “return evil for evil”.  One of the greatest gifts my single-mother gave me as a child was that she never “bad-mouthed” my dad.  She forgave him, and taught me to love and respect him, learn from his mistakes, and pray for him.  She simply “coached” me through life.  She comforted me when I was sad.  She corrected my when I was wrong.  She taught me wisdom when I was confused.  She kept her sense of humor, and never let me feel sorry for myself.  I recommend you do the same.  If you do, your son will eventually see the supremacy of a life lived for God.  In the end, the truth will be evident, and you won’t have to worry about your reputation in the eyes of your child – or anyone else for that matter.


Pastor Jon

About the Author

Jon Sanné is a Presenter for the National Center for Biblical Parenting, and the Family Life Pastor at Calvary Chapel in Olympia, WA, where he has served for the past 16 years.  He believes that the family is God’s training ground for both parents and children as they learn and grow together in everyday life.  Although there is no such thing as a perfect parent, Jon will share how you can be asuccessful one!

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