Seven Tips for Successful Parenting When a Toxic Ex Is Involved
1. AVOID SPEAKING NEGATIVELY ABOUT THE OTHER PARENT TO THE CHILD
Do not speak negatively of the other parent to the child or speak in an unflattering way about the other parent when the child is around. Although some divorces can be contentious with understandably hurt feelings and anger, children should be protected at all times from emotional pain. Both parents are required to provide a safe, secure, and healthy emotional support network.
2. IDENTIFY WHAT IS MOST IMPORTANT TO YOU AS A PARENT
Creating a healthy partnership with the other parent reduces the likelihood of making a child feel he or she needs to pick a side between the parents. Children should be reassured that although parents no longer love each other romantically they still have some degree of love and respect for the other parent because they share children.
3. SUPPORT COMMUNICATION BETWEEN YOUR CHILD AND EX-SPOUSE
Recognize that your child needs to have ongoing access and communication with both parents. Don’t avoid communicating with the other parent about any issues pertaining to the children. Each parent should have an honest and loving relationship with their children, so be sure what you saying to your children about respecting the other parent matches how you speak and behave toward the other parent.
4. CONSIDER THE OTHER PARENT WHEN MAKING DECISIONS ABOUT YOUR CHILD
Parents are encouraged to consider the other parent’s point of view whenever parental decisions need to be made. Remember both parents love the children equally, so it is only fair that you listen without judgement to any of their parenting suggestions and concerns. After all, if you’re initiating the concern, consider what the other co-parent might be thinking or reacting to what you are saying.
5. LEARN TO IDENTIFY WHAT TRIGGERS NEGATIVE REACTIONS FROM YOUR EX
By identifying what triggers negative behaviors, former spouses can begin the process of healing from the divorce and becoming more effective parents. By knowing what upset you about a former spouse, you can develop options to manage your responses to the triggers.
6. DO NOT PROVIDE YOUR CHILD DETAILED REASONS FOR YOUR DIVORCE
It is only natural for children to question their parents about the reasons leading to their divorce; however, the explanation should not include blaming the other parent, cheating, the other parent no longer wanting to be a family, etc. Simple explanations such as “we decided we did not want to remain married, but we are still a family”, answers the child’s question without assigning blame.
7. RESPECT YOUR CHILDREN’S RELATIONSHIP WITH THE OTHER PARENT
Be encouraging and avoid interfering. Divorce is not only confusing for spouses but for children as well. Children need to know that even if their parents are no longer together, the parents love towards the children remains and has not been changed or affected by the divorce.
By: Dr. Tarra Bates-Duford