Co-Parenting with a Hostile Ex-Partner

In a perfect world divorced parents would be able to put their feelings aside and be united in their efforts to raise their children and look out for their best interest.   However, after a divorce, it can be the case that parents continue to have conflict over even the smallest of decisions concerning their children.  When faced with co-parenting with a hostile ex-partner there are some actions which can be helpful in reducing conflict.

Find Effective Communication Methods

The foundation of a relationship is often deeply rooted in effective communication.  Unfortunately, when a parent demonstrates a pattern of hostility in their manner of addressing the other parent, it can be difficult.  If the hostile parent tends to express their frustration through text and email it may be advisable to use a third party communication system.  Several companies offer families services where all of their family-related discussions and planning are channeled through an external website.  Having to communicate through a neutral communication forum may help the more hostile party to take time to think about their words before they send information to the other parent.  Likewise, the other parent may feel safer having their communications filtered through another source.

Set and Keep Distinct Boundaries

An important consideration for a parent who feels they are dealing with a hostile former partner is how consistently they have been setting boundaries.  If the parent does not always speak up for themselves or allows certain negative behaviors to continue, the hostile parent will not have an incentive to change.  By being firm and consistent with the hostile parent, the other parent can make them aware of the behaviors they will not tolerate.

Keep the Children Away from the Conflict

It can be a tremendous challenge keeping children away from conflict when one parent is hostile to the other.  While you cannot control what the other parent is doing and saying, you can take a position of not speaking poorly of the other parent and maintaining neutrality.  Remaining consistent about not making negative remarks about the other parent will help the children feel secure in their relationship with you.  However, if the other parent is saying things which are harmful to the children it may be advisable to talk with an attorney about getting the court involved.

Family and Individual Counseling

Counseling can be a powerful tool in helping both individuals and families cope with the stress of being a divided household.  If the other parent is open to seeing a family counselor, it could be beneficial in helping to resolve the source of the hostility.  If the hostile parent will not see a counselor with you, it may still be helpful for you to see someone in order to process your feelings about the situation and develop positive coping mechanisms.

Hostility in family relationships can be difficult to manage. We understand the challenges families face during and after divorce and are here to help. Contact us if you are experiencing any problems with co-parenting with a hostile ex-partner.

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