You Make Me Sick

Does your ex make you “sick”! That may well be, but making your feelings clear to the child you share could make that child physically or even mentally ill, years and years later, into his adulthood. Would you be surprised to find that the better your relationship with your child’s other parent, the better your child’s long-term health? So dragging your ex’s name through the mud might make you feel better in that moment, but it might also negatively impact your child’s health long into his future. The effect of listening to you, someone whom they love dearly and rely on for all of their needs, going on about how awful his other parent is, the other someone whom they love dearly and whom they also trust to take care of their needs, is that type of ongoing stress that will negatively impact his immune system while he’s still a child.

Adverse Childhood Experiences

Each time a child faces any kind of trauma, whether it’s bullying in school, family turmoil, a stressful life event, or some other emotional distress, it takes its toll on that child. Such negative events have a name; they are called adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer a full overview of ACEs, including a vital signs fact sheet featuring their negative impacts on health, as well as on education and on employment opportunities later in life. Situations that are typically considered ACEs are fairly obvious. They include:
  • Being a victim of violence, abuse, or neglect at home
  • Witnessing violent acts in your home or community
  • Living with a family member who attempts or commits suicide
  • Living with someone who suffers from substance abuse
  • Living with someone who suffers from mental health problems
  • Having parents who are separated/divorced
  • Having a household member who is incarcerated
But, not surprisingly, they also include being parented by someone who repeatedly speaks ill of your other parent. Such an “adverse childhood experience” doesn’t guarantee a future problem, but it does heighten a child’s future risk of mental health issues, injury, risky behaviors, infectious or chronic disease, lack of income or educational opportunities, and even of catching cold. So what are you, as a parent, supposed to do? Before you say anything negative, count to ten and, while you do that, consider the impact on your kids. Then do the right thing. If you need help deciding whether to restructure your family, or, if so, how, visit us at Open Palm Law or email me at We are here for you, and for your children, during whatever change your family is going through! As I have told my daughter more times than either of us can count, “There are pluses and minuses to everything.” We can help you find the pluses in your child’s other parent, for the sake of that child.

Learn more about collaborative divorce. Follow Open Palm Law.

Need advice now? Contact Joryn!

About this week’s author, Joryn Jenkins.

Joryn, attorney and Open Palm Founder, began her own firm here in Tampa after a 14-year career in law, two of which she served as a professor of law at Stetson University. She is a recipient of the prestigious A. Sherman Christensen Award, an honor bestowed in the United States Supreme Court upon those who have provided exceptional leadership in the American Inns of Court Movement. For more information on Joryn’s professional experience, take a look at her resume.

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