Co-parenting with a toxic ex can leave you feeling drained and defeated. You may find that you are constantly fighting to keep your sanity because of the many tactics toxic ex use to manipulate and control others.
And even though it can be discouraging to be a good co-parent when the other parent isn’t any good, being a good co-parent has many benefits.
“Co-parenting is not a competition. It’s a collaboration of two homes working together with the best interest of the child at heart. Work for your kids, not against them.”– Unknown
Your children didn’t ask to be born into the situation they find themselves in but they deserve to be raised in an environment that is loving and nurturing. They deserve to have a parent that doesn’t take advantage of them or manipulate them.
They deserve to know that they are loved, not for what they do, but for who they are. And you should be the parent who does that since the other will not.
A judge won’t look at your negative responses to your toxic ex as a form of self-defense. They’ll view you equally as bad as them if you choose to act the way your ex does.
Instead of seeking revenge for the wrongdoing that has been done to you, do your best to forgive, and remain positive and respectful to the other parent. Document any incidents the court needs to know about so that you can present them in court when needed.
Yup, you read that right. Being good to other people is good for you.
Not only will your children have more respect for you for being the better parent and teaching them how to handle difficult people, but you will also develop good character.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?Matthew 5:43-48
It is clear that God wants us to love our enemies despite how they act toward us. It has been such a difficult and great lesson for me to learn. I still wrestle with my flesh because it is easy to hate, retaliate, and speak ill of someone who causes you harm or makes your life difficult but time and time again, I find myself on my knees praying that God will help me to be a good co-parent despite what the other party does.
The best way to be a good co-parent is to put your kids’ needs before any negative feelings you may have toward the other parent. Love your kids more than you hate your ex. It doesn’t matter how they treat you, if you can consider your children and how they will be impacted by this situation, you’re more likely to make the right decision and be a good co-parent despite what the other party does.
Even though your ex may suck at communication, make sure you communicate, and in writing.
You can choose to communicate through text or email. I would encourage you to avoid phone conversations because they may turn ugly and there is no way to keep a record of the conversation.
Even more, in a high-conflict situation, you can request that you both use co-parenting apps such as talking parents to help with communication. Talking parents keep a record of messages and when they were viewed which could serve as evidence in court.
A written record will help when the other parent tries to go back on an agreement or when they try to lie about a certain situation so it’s very important to have it recorded.
In your communications, try to be respectful and focused on the kids. Maintain a business-like manner in the way you communicate.
Pro Tip: Talk to the other party as though you’re speaking to the judge. Because in most cases, the judge will see your conversations.
Do the kids have an appointment coming up? Maybe they missed school because they were sick?
All of this information needs to be communicated with the other parent, whether or not they reciprocate. It doesn’t hurt to share too much information about the kids but it will hurt you if you don’t share any information.
Here are some other things you should communicate:
No matter how disrespectful the other parent is, do your best to foster a good relationship with them. Don’t return insults and don’t act as they do.
Respect them as the other parent and teach your kids to respect them. If you hear your child talking bad about the other parent, stop that behavior and help them know that the other parent should be respected.
It’s important to teach our children that we respect others no matter how they treat us. Our value isn’t based on how someone else decides to treat us but on what God says.
You’ve gotta learn to pick your battles because, with a toxic ex, there will be many!
Kids came back bald and you never received communication? Don’t sweat it. Plans on traveling with the kids and doesn’t provide enough notice? No sweat. Chooses to throw away toys you bought the kids? No problemo!
If your ex is asking for an extra day with the kids and your schedule allows it, let him/her have it. If they need to change the schedule for the upcoming week and you are able to accommodate the change, allow it.
The goal is not to be a doormat but to make small allowances that you know will benefit your children.
It can be a challenge to say positive things about the other party especially when they wrong you but you have to try not to speak ill of them in front of your kids.
Your kids see themselves as extensions of both of you so when you speak ill of the other parent, it affects the way they view themselves.
Ultimately, your children will see the true nature of their bad parent as they grow older and they’ll be able to make decisions on how to navigate a relationship with that party. Remember, your relationship with your ex is not going to be the same as their relationship with him/her.
No matter how many times they break the parenting plan, you follow it.
Adhere to the parenting schedule and the stipulations laid out in your plan as best as you can and document how they deviate.
Don’t withhold visitation because they don’t pay child support and don’t stop them from seeing the kids just because of something petty.
If there are any changes to the parenting plan that you both agree to, have it in writing (preferably by email) so that you can refer to it when necessary.
Withholding information from your ex isn’t beneficial to your kids.
In most cases, the judge will order that you exchange information about the kids. These include the kid’s SSN, their birth certificate, and other information.
Be sure to communicate information about any professionals involved in your kids’ lives. Information involving doctors, daycares, dentists, therapists, and schools should be shared with the other parent.
Whether you have joint or sole decision-making, make sure you communicate any major decisions. Let them know if you plan on changing doctors, or enrolling the kids in a new school.
In some cases, you may communicate with your ex but they may choose not to respond which is ok. The most important thing is that you tried to involve them. If you don’t already, make sure you have it specified in your parenting plan that each parent has a certain time period to respond to communication otherwise, they forfeit their right to be involved.
This list isn’t all-inclusive but I hope it gives you some ideas on how to be a good co-parent when co-parenting with a narcissist. I know it can be challenging and feel hopeless but once you know who you’re doing it for (your kids) it becomes more bearable.
Click here to see the steps I am taking while co-parenting with a narcissist.
Jul 7, 2022
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