Welcome back. If you remember from our previous article, we’ve been discussing a subject that’s very difficult for many parents to talk about, especially if it’s actually something they deal with personally. However trying to co-parent with a toxic ex is like trying to plant seedlings in salt. Practically impossible. And yet you may be required to make this “relationship” work, despite their repeated efforts to undermine you. And they will try, because that’s what toxic people do. But there are strategies you can use that can help make this easier.
Another toxic parenting strategy is “fake visitation time”
John T. Steinbeck, a father whose blog “Brainwashing Children” is a document of the struggle he faced when his ex attempted to alienate him from his son’s life after divorce, points out this particular parental alienation tactic. “One lie that many brainwashing parents do to their children is making up completely fictitious stories about why the ex did not appear for, or appeared late for, visitation drop-offs or exchanges.” Can you imagine that? A parent getting a child ready for a visitation that they know isn’t scheduled, simply so that they can “comfort” their rejected child afterwards when the other parent doesn’t show up.
A child who feels rejected by their parent is easy to manipulate
This is something that we have encountered before, where an emotionally abusive parent will take their children to “visitations” that the other parent knows nothing about, because the court never ordered them. That way, when the unsuspecting parent doesn’t show up for their parenting time, the alienating parent can explain to their child that their other parent doesn’t love them, or doesn’t want to see them. The other parent, of course, had no idea about the fictitious visitation, and so is unaware that they’re being undermined. It’s utterly heartbreaking.
So what can you do about this? That depends on your child…
If your child is older, you can talk to them about it. Explain that you would never miss time with them unless you had a very good reason (an emergency, for example). Also, explain that if you had to miss time with them you would reach out and let them know. Tell them that you love them and that you want to spend time with them, and that if you ever miss time with them, you want them to discuss it with you. Tell them that even if they’re angry or hurt, you want to hear from them. Invite them to share their feelings. That way, you have a better chance of knowing when and if your ex is using this strategy to undermine you to your child.
Make sure your kids know you want to be with them.
When you have time with your kids, focus entirely on them. Make them the center of your world. Put away your phone and listen to them, talk to them, and make memories with them. This will help to undo some of the damage done by your ex. It’s harder to convince a child that their other parent doesn’t love them when they feel so loved by that parent. But love isn’t enough. You need a good lawyer to help you fight this battle as well. So call The Kronzek Firm at 866 766 5245 and speak to one of our skilled family law attorneys. And join us next time for more tips on how to handle this terrible situation.