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So Your Ex is Toxic: How do you Manage Parenting with Them?


While all the research tells us that co-parenting effectively is the best way to help kids survive a divorce with peak emotional health, it is sometimes easier said than done. Even if you are committed to working hard to ensure your kids feel loved and supported, and you recognize the importance of having your ex in the kids’ lives, if you’re concerned about how to make it work with a former spouse who is angry, manipulative, or vengeful, some advice from an experienced therapist may be just what the doctor ordered!

Parallel Parenting 

Through parallel parenting, you can include your ex while limiting face-to-face interactions that could be difficult. To make it successful, simply come up with ways to reduce unnecessary conversations. That could mean having a clear understanding of basic guidelines around drop-off and pick-ups, bed times, and so forth, and might include:

  • Shared calendars that contain information about upcoming school events, extracurricular activities, medical appointments, and commitments;
  • More emailing and less face-to-face interactions;
  • Using mediators to message one another.

A Successful Plan

While parallel parenting will certainly not eliminate all the challenges of dealing with an ex who sees things very differently than you do, it can definitely help.  These tips can be useful:

  • Treat the agreement like a business deal that requires fidelity. File it with the court and hold yourself to it.
  • Put the kids first. Do not give them a reason to distrust or fear your ex. It will only create unnecessary anxiety. So be the adult: refrain from stirring up bad feelings between your child and your ex.
  • Spell out consequences for non-compliance, up to and including law enforcement involvement.
  • Follow the agreement, even when you’re emotionally charged and would rather not. Remember, your negative feelings and actions will have a detrimental impact on your child.
  • Set and Maintain Boundaries. If you’ve agreed not to check in on your children when they are with your ex, stick to that agreement. If you ex agreed to have your kids home at a particular time, don’t allow a breach of the agreement to go without a response.
  • Keep communication with your ex to a minimum. You know you push each other’s buttons, so minimize opportunities for that to happen. Remember, your kids don’t need to see dysfunction, no matter who is at fault.
  • If your child is in danger, alert the proper authorities. That should be a part of the agreement in the beginning, and something you follow through on if necessary.

It’s Possible 

Unquestionably, working with some adults can be exasperating. Nonetheless, the courts often see the value in having children develop a meaningful relationship with both parents.  The research points to positive outcomes when parents put their kids’ needs first. At WiseLieberman, our experienced Boca Raton family law attorneys can help put together the plan that will work for you. Schedule a confidential consultation in our office today.

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