Your Child: An Innocent Bystander Caught In The Communication Crossfire

In the relationship education classes that we teach, blended families are ALWAYS  hot topics.  Folks are often expressing how difficult it is to communicate with an EX in a respectable manner because the EX is simply CRAZY.  This may be true….but when you do speak please be mindful about what you’re saying and how you’re saying it.  It’s easy to get “caught up” in verbal confrontations with an EX.  What you don’t want is your child being “caught up”  and a scarred innocent bystander in your process.  The below article from AOLBlackVoices touches on this important aspect of parenting and reminds us that we need to be more mindful about when and how we’re having verbal disagreements in front of our children.

By Mason Jamal

I’ve been a husband for six years. I’ve been a father for 18. Do the math. That’s negative 12. Who needs an abacus? I belong to a generation of parents who, in financial speak, are upside down. If our children were mortgages, we would be one nation underwater. Wait a minute, we are. Shucks.

From foreplay to foreclosure, we keep getting screwed. Blame it on the burst of the housing bubble or blame it on the burst of the condom bubble. Either way, things don’t always unfold the way we hoped.

Ideally, love and marriage should come before baby and carriage just as incontrovertible evidence should have come before Bombs Over Baghdad. Then again, Bush and Dick always had a mind of their own anyway.

Even though I’m no longer an unwed single parent, I’m not married to my son’s biological mother. And now that “blackman” (as my wife and I affectionately call him) is weeks away from high school graduation, I have some words of wisdom to share with other parents who aren’t married to the mother or father of their child(ren).

“Words” is the operative word here. Word to your mother. Word to your baby’s mother. Word to your baby’s father. However you want to word it, it’s the words that matter.

We all understand that things break apart. Relationships don’t come equipped with cases and holsters and screen protectors. They’re unprotected social experiments. Drop them one too many times — or one good time — and they will stop working properly. And while they don’t come with rubber cases, they should come with rubbers. You know what I’m talking about: that unopened box of latex balloons still sitting on the dresser as you scurry to the bathroom to grab a clean-up towel. And what do you know: Nine months later, yada yada yada, the relationship has broken and so has the water. Welcome little Kenyada to the world.

We all know the story. After the initial elation, the war of words commences. There are plenty of exceptions to the rule but not nearly enough. Too often the relationship spirals quickly into verbal violence, leaving the child as an innocent bystander caught in the crossfire.

But if we tilt our heads upward, invariably, we will see the high road. We should take it more often. All of us who find ourselves in such a situation are guilty to one extent or another of taking the low road. Several paragraphs ago, when I noted that I’m not married to my son’s biological mother, it took everything in me not to insert “winning,” but I refrained. While that certainly isn’t word warfare, it’s not helping.

Of course, there are (sometimes) reasons for the acrimony. When the reasons become so high pitched that you have to get your Phillip Bailey on and say something, find the time and place to say it when the child isn’t present. Even if the child support payments are late while the car note is current on the baby daddy’s caddy, the “baby mama drama” has to be brought at the right time. Poisoning our children against the other parent, regardless of reasons, is just as deplorable as the act committed by the other parent.

Living out the best of ‘Jerry’ and ‘Maury,’ unedited expletives and all, like Def Comedy Fam in front of the children isn’t exactly the hallmark of well-adjusted parents. Regardless of who is right or wrong, both parties end up sounding like stereotypes lifted straight from a Tyler Perry script. All that’s needed is Madea to hit her mark and smack both of them with her penis. Too much? I’ll apologize for the imagery as soon as TP apologizes for the character and his unbridled exuberance he exhibits every time he dons the bodysuit and wig to play said character.

Let’s get it together. Children shouldn’t be scarred by the hostility that exists between their parents. We need a no-fly zone. The love a child has for his or her parents should be unconditional and uninterrupted by hostile aggression from another parent. If we have nothing good to say about the other parent in front of a child, say nothing. The child will appreciate it.

No kids were hurt in the making of this post.

Mason Jamal writes about men, women and popular culture. For more of his musings, visit To have his commentary delivered to your e-mail, subscribe here. Keep up with Mason’s daily thoughts and observations by following him on Twitter @masonsays.

4 replies
  1. Ladee Kathleen
    Ladee Kathleen says:

    Many a counselling session is with adults who were caught in the crossfire as children. If youv'e done it, speak to your kids and say SORRY. You could be saving a life.

  2. Rais Mujahid
    Rais Mujahid says:

    I think this topic needs more attention. We have expectation of people in these situation that aren't consistent with the reality of such circumstances. Mature adults that have a mutual understanding that their relationship is not working can still work together to raise happy children. The problem is most relationships don't end amicably. Therefore children often end up being the unimtended victims of a relationship battle.

  3. Patricia Knight
    Patricia Knight says:

    For those of you who are in this situation, my heart goes out to you. But, for any of you who is in their original marriage, with your biological kid's other parent, consider this: You are in the most coveted relationship known to mankind. Your marriage will: allow you to raise your kids together, have someone in your corner who's known you longer than anyone else (besides your biological family), increases your bank balance (divorce divides assets and child support for kids who don't live with you takes money out of the household), and do all of this (and more)without any baby mama or baby daddy drama.

    There are some things that only people who are in their original marriages know about longterm marriage. One of them is that sex in a long term marriage, where two people are healthy and have maintained a deep emotional connection cannot be compared to the circus of bed hopping that's currently going on in our community! Cheating, divorce and plain old bad behavior will not make things better and will cause you to miss out on what God intended for you.To have peace as you age, an original marriage beats other arrangements. Google the statistics. The grass is greener on THIS side!

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