After divorce, both parties must make every effort to co-parent effectively. This entails making decisions in the best interest of the children and limiting conflict as much as possible.
When dealing with a toxic co-parent, the process becomes a lot harder. While the definition varies greatly, toxic parents often engage in a pattern of behaviors that cause negative emotions in children and spouses, both current and former. If you are dealing with a difficult ex, here are a few steps to take.
Make sure you have a parenting plan
Divorcing couples establish parenting plans to ensure care of their children remains consistent. These plans include information on visitation, child support, dispute resolution, and many other important topics. While all divorcing couples should have parenting plans, they are crucial for difficult relationships. You and your ex must follow the terms of the plan, or you could face recrimination by the court. This provides you leverage should your ex refuse to adhere to the plan.
Establish communication boundaries
Communication with a toxic ex is often easier said than done. The person may repeatedly instigate fights and arguments when you are discussing your children, which will inflame angry feelings even further. Setting boundaries can help you maintain your sanity and navigate complex issues regarding child-rearing. For example, if you cannot handle face to face contact, institute a rule that you and your ex can only communicate via phone or email. Once you have established a boundary, do all you can to stick to it.
Support your kids emotionally
Toxic parenting also affects children, so make sure you are there to support them from an emotional perspective. Be willing to answer questions, handle negative emotions, and show support during their daily lives. Taking these actions will not completely undo the hurt feelings caused by your ex’s conduct, but they will show your children what healthy, loving parenting looks like.