A viral clip from a meme account on TikTok has sparked important dialogue about the actions separated parents take when referring to their ex while speaking to their kids.
Extra care is usually taken by parents to ensure that they don’t do or say anything wrong, but one mom had a different idea when she decided to record the interaction she had with her young daughter while they were watching TV.
The mom told her daughter that she was cheated on by her dad.
The short clip was posted by @cosplayfunny5 on TikTok, and the text within the video reads “the way that’s gonna haunt her for years.” And when you watch the video, they might be right.
She and her daughter are on the couch watching a TV show or a movie \when the mom decides to say, “She’s cheating!” in that tone of voice that usually means someone’s in trouble.
She’s referring to the woman on the TV, but then she asks her daughter, “You know who also cheated? Your dad, on me.” She pans the camera over to her daughter who looks completely shocked by the news that her dad cheated on her mom.
She looks incredibly young, probably too young to understand the nuances surrounding the situation, but her reaction makes it clear that she knows that cheating is something wrong.
The mom effectively bad-mouthed her daughter’s father to her, and although she may not realize the damage she’s done, many people in the comments pointed it out.
One woman wrote, “She's gonna be talking about that moment in therapy,” while someone else shared, “Okay but don’t tell your kids this, my mom told me my dad cheated and I swear it’s [affected] how I view love and relationships.”
Although most people might be speculating or sharing their anecdotes, there’s a real parenting lesson to be learned here about the nuances that come from separated families and parenting in this situation.
Separated parents should let their children form their own opinions of both parents.
There are countless studies and research being conducted on the negative effects that parental alienation causes on children. Parental alienation refers to a more deliberate attempt to alienate one parent, but even if it’s occurring from one parent without realizing it, the damage is still being done.
Dr. Jenna Rowen from The Family Institute at Northwestern University shares that conflict between parents has been shown to cause delinquency, antisocial behavior, conduct problems, depression, anxiety, and emotional insecurity.
A major point made by both Rowen and Bridget Edwards, a Certified Parent Educator with the Parent Encouragement Program (PEP), is that children will sometimes be forced into inappropriate roles when they end up in the middle of a conflict between their parents.
Edwards reminds us in an article on Washington Parent that “children are not our friends or confidants,” so they shouldn’t be treated as such. “Information that should remain confidential includes detailed reasons for the divorce, identifying one parent as responsible for the divorce,” she says, among other logistics that come from divorce.
Of course, this small clip from an account that isn’t the mother’s is only giving us a glimpse of the relationship she has with her daughter, and we also don’t know her co-parenting situation, if there even is one. But it’s probably not a good idea to share this information with a child, especially when they’re so young.
Isaac Serna-Diez is an Assistant Editor for YourTango who focuses on entertainment and news, social justice, and politics.
This article originally appeared on YourTango