Ah, co-parenting, the wild ride that never seems to have an exit! Imagine trying to juggle single mom life like a ninja, only to have a difficult ex swoop in and make things feel like a never-ending obstacle course. Double whammy alert!
I’ve been there, trying to keep my cool while dealing with a parental agreement that had more holes than a slice of Swiss cheese. He’d break it here, refuse to release the kids there, and just for kicks, add in a few blocks to keep things interesting. Cue the eye-rolling moments!
And let me tell you, the emotional toll was no joke. I was a mix of emotions – depression, guilt, and that good ol’ “should’ve seen it coming” regret. Ever have those moments where you wish you could hop into a time machine and give yourself a friendly warning? Yeah, that was me.
I was stuck in a co-parenting labyrinth, wondering if I’d made a cosmic-level mistake letting this guy into my life. Cue the dramatic internal monologues! But then, a light bulb moment struck! I realized I couldn’t control his antics, but I could control how I handled them.
So, I decided to be my own comedic relief in this wacky show called co-parenting. Step one: Embrace my power to keep my sanity intact! Step two: Learn the art of navigating this co-parenting madness without losing my ever-loving mind.
If there is one thing that has made a major impact in this situation for me, it has been my reliance on God. Many a time, I went on my knees begging Him to change this situation. I wanted more than anything for God to just take this man out of my life. I didn’t want to see him or even co-parent with him. But instead of taking the situation away, God has changed my heart.
I started this journey hating my ex for the way he treated me and have grown to pray for him that God will change him and help him to come to a knowledge of who God is.
My ex is still the same. He still violates our agreements, still has me blocked from talking to our kids, and still does things that inconvenience me and make it difficult to co-parent with him; but I am not the same as I was when this started and that has made a massive difference in this situation.
A parenting plan is a document that shows how you and the other party will raise your children. It includes schedules, transportation arrangements, exchange time and location, and other topics pertinent to your situation.
You need a parenting plan when co-parenting with a toxic ex and you can get this by going through the courts. A parenting plan will help you avoid unnecessary communication because everything is laid out. When you get one, be sure to be as specific as possible.
Having a parenting plan has really helped in our situation because it is a court-ordered document and if either party violates it, there are legal consequences.
I have also been able to use the parenting plan to remind my ex of our agreements when he tried to change the schedule or do something that went against our original agreement.
It’s important to set boundaries especially when you feel like the other party is always trying to control you.
Some of the boundaries I have set are:
These are the only situations pertinent to me but you can also set boundaries involving when the other party can contact you or the kids.
In the beginning, our relationship was really charged because everything was still pretty raw. There were a lot of insults thrown around and a lot of actions taken to retaliate. I admit that I didn’t say the best things to my ex because I was really upset with the way he treated me.
However, I never stopped him from seeing the kids in an attempt to retaliate. I realized that, if anything, this war between us only harmed our children. So as God worked on my heart, it was easier to continue following the parenting plan even when he strayed because I trusted that God had things under control.
Retaliating on your ex by using your kids does nothing but harm them. It’s not worth it to return the wrong that’s been done to you. I have learned to trust God and know that He will avenge me. Forgive the wrong done to you and focus on the kids.
At the beginning of this fiasco, my emotions were all over the place. Not only was I dealing with postpartum depression but I was also struggling with being a single mom. Managing my house, taking care of the kids, and working were all emotionally draining. So whenever we had arguments, I was always heated.
I returned every insulting text with more insults, and I am ashamed I did that.
At some point, I just decided that I wouldn’t engage in that behavior anymore. Instead of responding with smart remarks, I will keep quiet or focus on the kids. I still struggle sometimes but I am learning to keep quiet when provoked.
It’s not easy giving up control when your kids are involved. Especially when you have to give up control to someone who has hurt you and you don’t trust. But in order to heal and be the best parent, you have to.
What this looked like for me was not calling him persistently when he had the kids. Even though I have every right to call them when they’re with him, I decided I wouldn’t continue fighting him after he blocked me from communicating with them. I’d just document and keep going.
Another way I have given up control is by not stressing the small stuff and not worrying about what he may be doing with the kids or who he may have around them. If anything happens, God forbid, I will know about it. So instead of trying to control everything, I just make sure I follow the court orders and take care of my kids.
It’s really important to document events and situations when co-parenting with a toxic ex. Instead of retaliating or responding to the incident, record what happened so that you can use that when it comes time to go before a judge.
You can document on a parenting app or using a simple journal. Just make sure you are documenting everything and be as specific as possible. Make sure to list the date and time that the incident happened and include any information that may be useful to the judge.
Take photos if need be and keep those handy.
Take the time to research family law in your state. If you find that your ex is constantly violating the agreements, it’s good to know what actions you should take, especially when you cannot afford a lawyer.
Research what the court considers the best interest of the child so you can prove they are violating the agreement and you’d be the best person to raise the children a majority of the time.
There you have it! These are some of the ways that I am managing while co-parenting with a difficult ex. Let me know what your experiences are down below!
May 14, 2022
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