Ep #25: Co-Parenting With A Toxic Ex | Becoming You Again Podcast
Co-parenting is an essential part of divorce. We all have a desire that our co-parenting relationship will be easy, peaceful and harmonious. But for many, this isn't the reality. We end up trying to communicate with a toxic person who is unwilling to work together on any level. When this happens being a parent can feel overwhelming and we end up feeling like we have no control over parenting our kids.
Listen in as I break down the five steps to effective co-parenting with a toxic ex where you will feel in control and powerful in your own parenting role.
What you'll learn from this episode:
The thing one truth that will set you free as you co-parent with your toxic ex.
How to effectively keep the parenting focus on you.
How to set and keep boundaries.
Successful strategies for communication with your ex.
The importance of having a support system.
List to the full episode:
If you want to feel more confident in your ability to co-parent, even when your ex is a toxic narcissist, then you need to schedule a free consult with me. I will teach you how to keep the focus on you and what you can control and to let go of everything else with eas. Schedule your free consult by clicking here and let's get you to being the parent you want to be after divorce.
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Full Episode Transcript:
Welcome back to Becoming You Again. I’m your host Karin Nelson. I’m a certified divorce confidence coach and this is the podcast where I teach you how to reconnect with yourself, create emotional resiliency and live a truly independent life, so you can have an even better life than when you were married.
Hi everyone. I’m glad you’re back to listen to this week’s episode. It’s going to be a good one because this is something that I see over and over again when I’m working with my clients. It’s this struggle that they feel when they have to co-parent with a toxic ex. But before I dive into this topic, I want to ask a quick little favor of you. If you’re enjoying this podcast and feeling like it’s helpful to you as you go through your divorce, please will you do me three quick things? They are really easy. First I want you to follow this podcast on your favorite podcasting app and then give it a quick rating and then if you will just share it with someone you think it will help or share it on Instagram or in your divorce groups. The more women this podcast can reach the more help it will give to other women who are struggling as they go through their divorces too. And I can do my best to get the word out but I need your help as well. So I want to say thank you in advance. Thank you for your comments and your ratings and your reviews so far and for sharing it. I appreciate it all. Please keep going with it. You guys are amazing. I love you. Thank you for being here and let’s jump into today’s topic of co-parenting with a toxic ex.
I know that this can be a big struggle. You have kids and you have this ex and you know that probably for the rest of your life and at least for the remainder of your kids adolescent lives you will need to have a relationship with your ex because of the need to co-parent. Most of us have a desire that our co-parenting relationship be one of ease, and peace and harmony. And for some of us this really is available, right? For me and my ex and for my boyfriend and his ex we have really great coparenting relationships. We are able to make it work. We are able to communicate when we need to. There is not a lot of drama. It is not difficult. We are easily able to coparent in our relationships but this is not the reality for so many women who are going through a divorce or who are divorced and really trying to raise their kids with this other person that just happens to be the father of their children. Right? And for today I’m going to give you some tips that you can use and start and implement today to be able to coparent with a toxic ex.
I mean life would be so amazing and divorce wouldn’t be nearly as challenging if we all could just get along as humans and co-parents. Right? But unfortunately we as humans all get to choose to act in any way we want and when it comes to co-parenting this is no different. Not every person is able to, or knows how to or is willing to let go of their own personal pain, their own personal hurt or their own agenda whatever it is, right, instead put their kids wellbeing first. Not everybody is willing to do that. So let’s talk about what you can do if you find yourself in a situation like this where you’re desperately trying to co-parent in a healthy, peaceful way and your toxic ex is not following that lead.
The first and most important thing for you that is going to make your life so much easier as a co-parent is to remember that we as humans all have agency. Now agency means that we get to do whatever we want. Yes there are definitely consequences to every choice we make (good and bad) but we still get to do whatever we want. So as much as we may want our ex to change or to be different or if only they would stop being such a narcissistic, crap-head, life for you and the kids would be so much better. Like as much as we wish they’d stop behaving the way they are, they aren’t going to. Our wishing they would change or our ruminating on how they’re always creating so much drama isn’t going to actually help them or make them change. Right? All that resistance of really understanding that they have agency and that they get to be who they are and act as they do – all of that is just causing you a lot of pain, and anguish and heartache. Stop doing this to yourself. You can cut back on a lot of the pain and misery that you’re feeling just by applying this one idea into your life.
Now remembering and accepting that every person has their own agency, doesn’t mean that I’m telling you to let your ex walk all over you and it doesn’t mean that I’m telling you not to set boundaries or take care of yourself and your kids in the best way you know how. And I’m going to be talking about these other things in a minute. But remembering and accepting that your ex has his agency isn’t giving him a pass at being a terrible human. All this means is that you are acknowledging that he gets to be who he is and he gets to act how he wants to act and that you also have the same power to be who you are and act as you want to act. And since we know we can’t change him or control him, right? We’ve tried that before and it doesn’t work. We’re going to focus on what you can change and what you can control which is always you. Which is the best news ever.
So accepting that he has agency and that YOU also have agency is where all of your power lies. Because it means that you get to show up in this co-parenting relationship as the person you want to be, as the mother you want to be and it doesn’t matter if he follows suit or not. It really doesn’t.
So now that you’ve gotten to this place where you’ve accepted that he has agency and you can’t change him. There are some things that I’m going to talk about that you can do to be able to effectively co-parent with this toxic ex in your life.
The first thing that really helped me when I was first divorced and learning to co-parent was allowing my ex to parent in his own way at his own house. I remember specifically there was one instance after he had moved into an apartment and the kids were with him and for whatever reason – I can’t even remember what it was now – but I was on the phone with my ex and I was telling him essentially that he was doing parenting wrong. He was not doing it the way I would do it and essentially that meant in my head that he was just doing it wrong. We got in a huge argument about this because of course he felt attacked and I was kind of in my own way attacking him because I was telling him he wasn’t a good enough parent because he had a different way of doing it than I would do it. Right? Now we worked through this. I think we worked through it that afternoon even. Like I said before we have a great coparenting relationship. We have worked on her conversations and we are able to communicate very well. But the real work here was for me. It was when I realized he gets to parent however he wants in his house; and it’s not my place to tell him how to do it or to even judge whether he’s doing it right or wrong, good or bad, effectively or not. He’s parenting his way and I’m parenting my way and neither are right and neither are wrong – they are different. So once I was able to accept that he gets to parent however he wants at his house, that took a lot of pressure off of me. Because I didn’t have to feel like I had to be his parent and my kids parent at the same time. Right? I could finally let go of trying to control things that were completely outside of my control. When I was trying to control things that were out of my control it felt super helpless and useless and it just does not work. So I was able to let all of that go and I allowed him to show up as the dad that he wanted to be at his house