In many divorces, we’ve noticed that the conflict between the spouses doesn’t end with the final legal announcement. Some people are never able to let go of their anger. Working with them to effectively co-parent your children can quickly become a nightmare. Here are 5 important tips to help you navigate co-parenting troubles with a difficult ex.
1. Minimize communication
In a normal co-parenting relationship, we could advise you to communicate regularly with your ex on all issues concerning your children. However, when you have to co-parent with a hostile ex, it is a different situation. The best thing to do here would be to reduce phone calls or face-to-face meetings to as little as possible. Route all your communication via text messages or email. It would minimize your chances of being drawn into an unnecessary argument and also give you more time to think through your responses. You can also save all the texts and emails between you if you think you may need them as evidence later.
2. Don’t react
Your ex’s irrational and immature behavior is targeted specifically at getting a reaction from you – so don’t give them that satisfaction. If you respond to their anger in kind, you are essentially giving them what they are looking for. Also, stop trying to make your ex understand your point of view. It is never going to happen and you will only end up making yourself feel worse. And most importantly, remember that parental conflict hurts the children most of all. As long as your ex is a good parent (however horrible a spouse he or she may be), the suitable thing to do here would be to ignore them or back off.
3. Avoid attending the same events
We know your children would love to have both their parents with them on their birthdays and other special occasions. But if it would only cause them more stress, wouldn’t it be better if you chose to avoid being at the same events with your spouse? For instance, instead of celebrating your kids’ birthdays together, take turns at hosting the parties. If both of you plan to attend school meetings, make sure you are there at separate times so that you avoid running into each other.
4. Learn to let go
When you are co-parenting with a difficult ex, you have little or no control over what goes on when your kids are with their other parent. So if your ex lets your kids sit up late at night on school days or feeds them junk food every other day, there is nothing you can do about it. So learn to let go of the small things. However, if you think your ex’s anger and behavior may pose a real danger to your children, you may want to think about taking necessary legal steps to ensure their safety.
5. Get help
Don’t allow your ex’s issues to cause you problems of your own. If dealing with the constant anger and irrational behavior is making you feel stressed or angry, it would be a good idea to consult a trained professional who can help you handle the situation better. If your divorce was particularly high-conflict, your children may also be experiencing the negative impacts and you may want to consider therapy for them too.