Welcome back. We’ve been talking about the issue of toxic parenting, and how very hard it is to co-parent with a toxic ex. And if you’re curious, a toxic person usually refers to a person with narcissistic tendencies, but can also mean an ex who is just so manipulative, poisonous and conflict driven that they can’t have normal interactions with others. As we explained in the previous article, it’s practically impossible to co-parent effectively with someone who fits that description, but there are things you can do to make this situation a little easier for yourself.
Set boundaries for yourself and stick to them.
This is very hard, especially if you are still recovering from a toxic relationship, but it’s an imperative part of your healing. And when it comes to your kids, it may be the only way you’ll survive this process and come out the other side with your sanity intact. So what do we mean? Here are a few examples:
- Refuse to have dialogues with them about anything other than your kids. If it has to do with the kids, then it’s unavoidable, but if it pertains to ANYTHING else, ignore them, or send the same response every time, which politely explains that you aren’t available to discuss anything beyond your shared children. Anything else and you’r opening the door to more manipulations. You don’t need that, and nor do your kids.
- Set time limits for when you are willing to talk to them if they DON’T have the kids. Pick a time that works for you, like your lunch hour, or after your child is in bed, and let them know that if they have anything child-related to share with you, they need to do it during this time period. And (this is the most important part) DON’T answer the phone at any other time outside of the limits you set. If they call, let it go to voicemail and check it later when you feel strong enough.
- Don’t engage with threats, allegations, or manipulations. (This is why you limit calls to certain times and refuse to talk about anything other than the kids!) If your ex really is what you think they are, they’re going to try to engage you over and over. They will play with your feelings, manipulate you, and try to get you to react to their verbal proddings. Don’t do it. It isn’t worth it, no matter how cruel they can be, or what kinds of threatening implications they make. It just isn’t worth it – not for you and not for your kids.
- Keep your direct contact with them to an absolute minimum. This pretty much ties into what we’ve already talked about, but it’s important enough to be worth spelling out – don’t interact with them in person if you don’t have to. When you pick up or drop off your kids, focus on them. Hug them, kiss them, tell them you love them, but politely make it clear that if your ex has anything to say to you, they can text you, or call during the time periods you specified. Don’t give them opportunities to hurt you or get a rise out of you, especially in front of your kids. And remember: voicemails and texts can be shared with the court, face-to-face conversations can’t, so try not to have them if at all possible!
Don’t let a toxic ex affect how well you parent.
Toxic people love drama. They love hurting other people, getting revenge, and creating untenable situations for those they believe have wronged them. They aren’t capable of love, and any kind or generous actions on their part are usually driven by darker ulterior motives. You don’t deserve to let a person like that control your future, or ruin your relationship with your kids. So if this sounds like your ex (or even your current spouse) call our hard working and experienced family law attorneys at 866 766 5245. We can help you fight for a brighter future, for you and for your kids.