How to Deal with Retaliatory Behaviors in Co-Parenting
Co-parenting is challenging in itself, but when your ex-partner is displaying retaliatory behavior, the process becomes especially difficult. Parents who engage in vindictive behaviors can be mentally and emotionally draining, and the unpredictability can leave you on your toes. Read on for a few tips for effectively dealing with a high-conflict co-parent.
#1: Set Clear Boundaries
Individuals with high-conflict personalities tend to cross other people’s boundaries, which is why you need to make your boundaries known. It is important that you don’t respond emotionally when the other parent engages in behavior that will lead to conflict. You don’t need to respond to your ex unless it’s a real emergency, so feel free to ignore texts and emails until you are cooled off and ready to have a civil conversation. Remember, you don’t have to defend yourself or your parenting style to your ex as long as it adheres to your custody agreement.
#2: Never Take What the Other Parent Says Personally
Most high-conflict co-parents are simply projecting their personal issues onto their ex. The key to dealing with their retaliatory behavior is to disengage from the conflict. Don’t waste time and effort thinking about their hurtful words. You can’t change what your ex thinks about your parenting style, so turn to others in your life that you can trust for assurance and encouragement. You will likely find that the conflict between you and the other parent will become less tense when you don’t react to their behavior.
#3: Accept That You Can’t Change the Other Parent
We tend to find that most of the stress caused by vindictive co-parents comes from one parent’s failure to accept that the other person won’t change the way they think or act. No matter how much you want the other parent to get over their issues and put your children first, it’s most likely not going to happen unless they have the desire to change themselves. After you come to the conclusion that the other parent is only going to change if they want to, you will find it is much easier to stop trying to control them and to just focus on your own reactions and parenting choices instead.