Take The High Road

Sounds simple enough, but it isn’t easy. I was not as successful at this step as I should have been, especially at the beginning. I failed on more than a few occasions, but it is very important to say nothing negative about your former spouse.

If you think it through, there is very little upside in saying anything negative about your ex-spouse or partner, regardless of how insignificant it might appear to you. In most situations, you will only anger your kids, and it just sounds like sour grapes to your friends and neighbors.

If you take the high road and say nothing negative about your former spouse and even manage to say something nice on occasion, it will have a positive impact on every aspect of your life and the lives of your children. Nothing is immediate, but your kids will respect you eventually. If you are active in your community; in your church, charities, civic groups, they will respect you as a person as you present yourself as having class and dignity when you take the high road.

In fact, I would suggest that if you do take the high road and your former spouse continues to bad mouth you, it will only make him or her look bitter, angry and foolish. Below I have listed some benefits and motivational factors for taking the high road.

Take the high road, there's a lot less traffic there

Benefits of Taking the High Road:

  • Communication: Most people don’t like criticism, and no one likes condemnation or ridicule. If your child or children learn from experience that you are slow to anger, praise them often and have a positive mindset, communication with your children will be open honest and often.
  • Trust: Your children will learn to trust you. Building trust in a single-family home is tantamount to good parenting. It certainly takes time to build trust with your kids.  Ignoring any bad behavior or negative comments from your former spouse will allow your kids to see you in a positive light, as an honest person, with no resentment or anger. Once your children learn to trust you, they will confide in you and want you to earn their trust as well.
  • Strong Role Model: A single parent has to be a strong role model for their child or children. In fact, you have to be conscious of that every single day. Ignoring the opportunity to say something negative about your former spouse or partner will teach your child or children to ignore the negative words or actions of others as well. Showcase your positive outlook, resilience, determination and not your negativity, especially if it is directed at your child or children’s mother or father.
  • Resiliency: Setting a good example for your child or children by ignoring negative comments or actions from your former spouse or other people will teach resiliency. Most of what children learn from their parents is by observing them. If you want to teach your kids to ignore criticism, name calling, insults and even verbal forms of abuse, teach them to ignore it by taking the high road and ignoring it yourself.
  • Stress Reduction: Maintaining a positive and respectful attitude can help reduce stress and emotional turmoil for both the single parent and the children. Negative comments and hostility can create a tense and unpleasant atmosphere.
  • Child’s Emotional Stability: Children thrive in a stable and supportive environment. When parents avoid disparaging each other, it provides a sense of security and emotional stability for the child. They don’t feel caught in the middle of a conflict.
  • Co-Parenting Success: When parents can maintain a civil and respectful relationship, it’s more likely they will succeed in co-parenting effectively. This benefits the child by ensuring that both parents remain involved in their life.
  • Legal and Custody Matters: Speaking negatively about a former spouse can sometimes have legal implications, especially in custody battles. If your spouse is looking for a reason to hurt you, they could, in theory, file a defamation lawsuit. They might not win or may only have a small chance of proving you defamed him or her, but it would be better if you not provide them with the opportunity or reason. It’s generally in the best interest of both the parent and the child to present a respectful and cooperative image to courts.
  • Personal Growth: The process of not speaking negatively about a former spouse can be an opportunity for personal growth and resilience. It encourages finding healthier ways to cope with the challenges of co-parenting.

Not taking the high road, or even worse, constantly saying negative things, or harmful things, about your spouse can result in very harmful effects on you, your children and your attempt at being a good single parent. Here are some of the potential negative consequences of not taking the high road:

Negative Consequences:

  • Stress and Conflict: Engaging in negative communication can escalate conflict between the parents, making the co-parenting relationship more contentious and stressful. This can harm the overall well-being of everyone involved.
  • Emotional Distress for Children: Children who are exposed to negative comments about one of their parents may experience emotional distress, confusion, and feelings of guilt. They may feel torn between their loyalty to both parents and may develop low self-esteem or anxiety.
  • Legal Consequences: Negative comments about a former spouse can have legal implications, particularly in custody and visitation disputes. Courts may view such behavior unfavorably when determining custody arrangements.
  • Isolation: Speaking poorly about a former spouse can strain relationships with friends and family members who may become tired of hearing the negativity. This can lead to social isolation and a lack of support.
  • Impact on Future Relationships: A pattern of speaking poorly about a former spouse can affect future romantic relationships. Potential partners may be wary of becoming involved with someone who engages in negative behavior or conflict.
  • Negative Self-Image: Engaging in negative behavior can harm one’s self-image and overall mental health. Holding onto anger and resentment can prevent personal growth and healing after a divorce.
  • Ineffective Co-Parenting: Negative communication hinders effective co-parenting. It makes it difficult to collaborate on important decisions, maintain consistency in parenting styles, and create a stable environment for the children.
  • Damage to the Child’s Relationship with Both Parents: Negative comments can harm the child’s relationship with both parents. If one parent is consistently portrayed in a negative light, it may lead the child to distance themselves from that parent, missing out on the benefits of a healthy parent-child relationship.
  • Cycle of Negativity: Children often model their behavior after their parents. When they witness one parent speaking poorly about the other, they may learn to use negative language in their own relationships and conflicts.
  • Long-Term Impact: The negative impact of speaking poorly about a former spouse can be long-lasting. It can affect the child’s development, their future relationships, and the overall family dynamic for years to come.


Taking the high road and refraining from negative comments about a former spouse can have numerous benefits, including improved emotional well-being for all parties involved, better co-parenting dynamics, and a more stable and positive environment for the child. It also sets a positive example for the child, teaching them the value of respect and conflict resolution. All of the blogs I have written are based on my own personal experience and this blog is no exception. Trust me when I say, it wasn’t easy taking the high road and my kids weren’t even aware of it at the time. Today however, they will admit that they appreciate and respect my commitment to (almost) never saying anything negative about their mother.