Five Ways To Manage Co-parenting With A Toxic Ex

By ReGain Editorial Team|Updated July 12, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Karen Devlin, LPC

Splitting up from an ex is challenging enough; however, this challenge is often exacerbated when children are involved. When two parties split up with one another, they generally have to engage in co-parenting. Certain people can work out amicable arrangements, whereas others have a more difficult time. The nature of the split or breakup can also greatly contribute to how well exes manage to get along with one another following a break-up. If you’ve found yourself in a situation where you have to co-parent with a toxic ex, there are certain details and bits of information that you need to be cognizant of.

The Best Interests Of The Children Always Come First

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Whenever you’re co-parenting, the best interests of the children always have to come first and foremost. This is something that both parents need to be on board with; however, you cannot control your ex’s actions. Therefore, doing your best to ensure that your children are in the best possible position should be your utmost priority in any situation where you’re co-parenting. Keeping your children’s best interests in mind can also help allow you to maintain focus rather than getting lost in the weeds because of your ex.

The Basics

Despite the challenges which are bound to come along with interactions with a toxic ex, under no circumstances should you badmouth your ex in front of your children. This is one of the most fundamental principles of successful co-parenting. Your ex may be genuinely infuriating to deal with, but at the end of the day, they are still your children’s other parent. Your children deserve to have a healthy and loving relationship with both of their parents, regardless of anything that may have happened between you and your ex.

Obviously, if your exposes a genuine threat or danger to your children, this changes the situation, and the appropriate protective measures should be taken; however, if your ex’s toxicity is limited to how they interact with you, swallowing it and figuring out successful management strategies are ultimately the best courses of action to take.

Thankfully, there are a series of ways you can manage co-parenting with a toxic ex and make the process run as smoothly as possible.

How To Manage Successful Co-Parenting With A Toxic Ex

You cannot control the actions of your ex; however, you can control how you behave. This is what will ultimately allow you to manage the process of co-parenting with your ex, regardless of how toxic they may be. If your ex truly has the best interests of your children at heart, they will likely attempt to control themselves, at least somewhat, when the children are in their presence.

Be Willing To Listen To Your Ex

Believe it or not, listening to your ex can significantly deal with the management of co-parenting. Your ex may be a complete pain to deal with, but people tend to get even worse when they feel as though they’re not being listened to. Listening to your ex is not only good for the sake of smoothing out the co-parenting process, but your children will also benefit from seeing their parents behave as amicably as possible with one another. Respectfully listening to your ex is a great way of preventing further animosity between yourself and your ex; remember, the best interests of your children must always come first and above all.

Have A Reliable Support System

Co-parenting after a failed relationship is rarely easy, and the process can become exponentially more complicated when your ex happens to be a toxic individual. This is why having a reliable support system in your corner is so important. Whether that support system is comprised of friends, family, or all of the above, knowing that your loved ones have your back makes such an amazing difference.

If you’re feeling especially frustrated and want to vent, your adult support system (not your children) will be the best and most appropriate people to turn to. The ones who are closest to you can also provide feedback which contributes to gaining a new outlook.

Don’t Try To Compete With Your Ex.

Depending on how toxic your ex is, you may find yourself in a situation where you feel like they’re trying to compete with you. In many cases, this happens when an ex is still sore over the breakup, resentful about events that may have transpired, or otherwise trying to get back at you for one reason or another. As tempting as it may be to engage in this type of situation, it’s best not to do so. Remaining focused on being the best parent for your children and ensuring that they’re in a good place is a much better use of your time. Remember, in competition; it always takes two to tango.

Don’t Be Afraid To Take Legal Action If Necessary

If co-parenting with a toxic reaches a point where you genuinely feel worried about your safety or the safety of your children, don’t be afraid to take the proper legal action. Taking notes of problematic occurrences is advisable, keeping track of dates, times and storing your notes in multiple locations. Things may not get to this point with your toxic ex, but if they do, the ability to legally defend yourself and ensure the safety of your children is paramount. Having witnesses who can vouch for your character is another asset that will come in handy if you become forced to take legal, protective measures.

Be Cognizant Of Your Ex’s Negative Behavior Patterns

Once you get into the habit of co-parenting, you’re likely to notice certain patterns in your ex’s behavior. Being aware and cognizant of these patterns as time passes can help you avoid negative interactions and focus on what is best for them. Toxic behaviors generally happen in cycles; once you recognize the patterns which comprise the toxic cycle, you can take steps to minimize negativity and ensure that you’re doing your part as a responsible parent.

Important Reminders

Co-parenting is a journey, especially when you’re forced to deal with a toxic ex. Give yourself time to learn the ropes, and don’t beat yourself up if everything isn’t immediately smooth-sailing. Knowing how to manage co-parenting with an ex is always helpful, but each situation is unique. There will be many parts and layers of co-parenting, which ultimately require you to make a judgment call and determine which course of action you think is best.

If you know other successful co-parents, it may be helpful for you to network with them. Their situations are bound to differ from yours, but this doesn’t mean that their feedback and advice won’t prove to be of value. In many ways, this goes hand in hand with having a reliable support system. The ability to get advice from others who have been through what you’re learning can truly make your situation easier and less stressful.

Seeking Professional Help Is Always OK

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There are times where exes can put differences aside and seek professional therapy or counseling to improve their co-parenting skills and do what’s best for their children. If this is something you and your ex can manage to do, it’s an advisable move to better your situation.

If your ex isn’t able to seek professional help or declines to do so, this is still an advisable course of action for you. Remember, you can’t control how your ex conducts themselves, but you do have control over yourself and how you move throughout the journey of co-parenting. Working with a therapist allows you to talk about your situation and gain professional, unique feedback, which strictly pertains to what you’re going through as a co-parent.

Seeking therapy doesn’t make you less of a good parent, despite what your ex or other people may tell you. In fact, seeking therapy shows how committed you are to excellent co-parenting and doing what’s in your children’s best interest. This is something which you ought to be proud of, and nobody can take this away from you.

Depending on your situation or schedule, traveling to a designated location every week might not be a good fit for you. This is why signing up for online therapy with Regain is an available option that can be of value to you. Whether you’re going through co-parenting struggles or another matter entirely, Regain-based therapists would be more than thrilled to work with you.

Everyone faces setbacks and hard times in life. The ability to seek help when these challenges arise is ultimately what contributes to getting through hard times. Working with an online therapist will not make all of your issues magically vanish; however, it will ensure that you’re equipped to deal with issues effectively and find the right solutions.

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