Dealing with an ex who lies and manipulates regularly makes the job of being a single parent that much harder. This behavior often makes even the most stable parent fantasize about destructive ways to eradicate the lying individual from your lives. Having an ex-spouse that continually lies and manipulates multiplies the burdens you already endure because you cannot trust anything your ex says. You often find yourself having to clean up the emotional messes he leaves behind. It is vital that you keep your anger at bay, for your own sake and your kids. It is also crucial that you find an amicable solution. This stops the behavior so it does not continue to affect your children’s well-being.
Seek counsel before confronting your ex. Choose someone who loves and cares for you both, if possible, such as your pastor, siblings or close friends. If you have a cordial relationship with your in-laws, they may offer the best insight to your ex’s behavior. Even in difficult relationships with your in-laws, they often love the grandchildren very much and are willing to help with anything that involves the kids.
Talk to your ex privately and take responsibility for any behavior on your part that makes him feel he must lie or manipulate in his relationship with you and your children. Give examples where you can prove his bad behavior. Explain how it affects the children and prevents him from being an appropriate role model.
Ask your ex to say what he means when talking to you and your children. Tell him it is just as important that he stand behind what he says. Appeal to his love for the children and explain that it isn’t healthy for their self-esteem to be unable to trust what a parent says.
State clearly the boundaries you want to enforce in his relationship with the children and ask him what you can do to help. Explain that you cannot continue to watch him manipulate and lie to them.
Agree that neither parent will ever speak harshly or in a negative fashion about the other one in the children’s presence. This is important even when speaking to another adult and the children are in the same vicinity. Kids often hear things even when you think they are distracted. Agree that if you cannot speak kindly about each other when talking to the children, that you won’t say anything at all.
If your ex was not a liar or manipulator before the divorce, this may be his way of dealing with the stress of the situation. Suggest that he seek counseling or volunteer to go to a family psychologist together. This is an excellent way to deal with strong emotions, like anger and depression, which exist after the divorce. If you have preschool age children, they can benefit from attending the counseling sessions as well.
Keep in mind that divorce is not only quite difficult for the children, it is also overwhelming and hurtful for the parents as well. It is vital that you are proactive in building a cordial working relationship with your ex. Over time, this results in diminishing the bad effects on the children due to the split in the family structure.