Here’s the thing, Mama: Co-parenting with a toxic ex is like trying to dance gracefully with a bull in a china shop. You’ve put on your best moves, attempted to be kind, forgiving, and followed the parenting plan to a T, all in the hopes that they would catch a glimpse of your efforts and somehow transform into a more cooperative co-parent. But let’s face it, their behavior hasn’t exactly been rainbows and sunshine. It’s more like a thunderstorm with a side of hail.
So, what’s a single mom to do? Well, the best we can do is find ways to make this whole co-parenting circus bearable, even if it means pulling out some unconventional strategies that you won’t find in your run-of-the-mill advice columns.
Imagine yourself as the nimble matador in the center of the ring, poised and ready to take on the challenges that come your way. Your toxic ex charges at you like a wild bull, hurling insults and negativity. But instead of engaging in a dangerous dance with them, we’re going to equip you with a metaphorical red cape and a repertoire of clever moves to keep yourself protected and maintain your sanity.
Are you ready to transform this chaotic co-parenting situation into a bearable experience? Let’s dive into these tips, filled with vivid imagery and playful banter, that will help you not only survive but thrive amidst the bull-headedness of a toxic ex.
If you don’t already have a parenting plan, and you are struggling with the other party, get one ASAP. This may require you to go to court but you have to get a parenting plan that details everything about your relationship.
A parenting plan is a document that details how your children will be raised by both parents. It includes the schedules of where they’ll spend their time. Information about who will make decisions about the child-whether it’s joint decision making or sole decision making.
A parenting plan is instrumental in ensuring that you and the other party are clear on what to do in different situations and are in some sort of agreement on how you’ll raise your child together.
If you have a parenting plan that you don’t feel confident in because of gray areas, then I would encourage you to go back to mediation or court and get everything straightened out. A good parenting plan not only helps lay out what’s acceptable and not acceptable in your relationship, it can also be used to get the other party to cooperate because all that is listed on there is enforceable by the law and could result in jail time, a warning, or fines to the party that doesn’t comply.
You can’t rely on memory, so make sure to document everything that happens. If you don’t have one, get a calendar and check off the days when the other party has the children. Mark down any visitations that are missed and any times that the other party was late to drop off or pick up.
Get all of your court orders organized in a folder or binder that you can access easily and keep a journal where you record important information. The best thing about being organized is that you can use this in court and if the other party tries to lie, you will be able to pull up what they are talking about and prove them wrong because you have it documented.
Co-parenting apps are great to use if your relationship is toxic and doesn’t allow for communication. If you find that you are constantly arguing or your messages are being ignored, I would recommend you request the use of a co-parenting app and have it court ordered so that if anything happens and you have to go to court, you can use the information in the app to prove your points.
There are a lot of co-parenting apps you can use. They all have different features that can help you navigate your relationship with little interaction with the other party thus avoiding arguments.
It can be really hard not to respond when the other party is constantly pushing your buttons. You may feel like you have to say something back to them to hurt them the way they hurt you. But try not to respond.
One thing to remember is that your text messages can be used against you in court so if you say something mean to the other parent, you could be seen as a bad parent as well. You may be the victim who is constantly being pushed, but don’t retaliate. Remain calm in high-conflict situations.
Don’t let the other party bring you to his/her low level. Stay above the mess and the drama. When s/he wants to argue, stay silent. When s/he refuses to follow the parenting plan, you follow it and document the ways s/he is going against the plan. When s/he chooses to insult you, don’t return the insult. Be the bigger person for yourself and your kids.
Whenever you are interacting with the other party, think about your children. How do/will they view this interaction? How does/will it affect them? Do they see both of their parents happy or angry at each other? As they grow, what will they learn about relationships from their parent’s interactions?
It can be so hard to think about their best interest when the other party is hurting you or making things difficult for you. You may want the other party to be out of your children’s life because of how they treat you but how will this affect your child?
I’m not saying that you should stay in an abusive relationship so that your children can have a relationship with the other party. Sometimes the other party is dangerous to both you and your child and it may be in the best interest of that child to be separated from that parent.
However, if this can be avoided, then it should.
I know in my situation, I got to such a bad place that I didn’t want to interact with my ex. I wanted to just take my children and go because I hated the way he treated me and made me feel. I hated that he went out of his way to make things difficult for me and I just never wanted to see him again. But my children need their father and since he doesn’t pose any physical danger to me, despite my concerns, I will do my part to ensure that they have a relationship with him.
Co-parenting, in its essence, is the idea that two individuals can work together to raise their children with little to no conflict. However, there are other situations where co-parenting is not possible because of a narcissist party who refuses to see how his actions are affecting the other party and his children.
In these situations, it would be best to apply a different form of parenting to your relationship called parallel parenting. Parallel parenting allows two parents involved in a high-conflict separation to parent together with little to no interaction thus minimizing stress and conflict.
Parallel parenting is beneficial because it can help parents to cool down after a heightened separation and may lead to a positive relationship in the future.
I should have added this to the beginning.
Going through a tough co-parenting relationship can be so draining. It has been for me. It’s upsetting to constantly have to deal with the same issue or constantly try to help someone see you as a person and stop mistreating you.
On your own strength, you can’t overcome, but through prayer and trusting in Jesus Christ, you can and will overcome. The Bible says that God is close to the brokenhearted. He is close to those who are hurting. Instead of drowning in your situation, take it to Him.
Jesus said that He came so that we can have life and have it more abundantly–so turn to Him today. Give Him your burdens so you can be free from the weight of your situation.
Co-parenting in these situations is extremely difficult but don’t let your heart be troubled, God has overcome and because He has, you will too. Do the best you can for your children, ultimately, they’ll be able to see who is causing the problems and will learn all that you do/have done for them and will be grateful. And that’s all that matters.
Mar 15, 2022
@ FAITH MATINI 2021 All Rights Reserved
TERMS + PRIVACY
Faith Matini is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.