Ending a relationship with your high conflict partner could be helpful for your physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing.
However, if you have a child or children, one of the main challenges is coming up with a co-parenting strategy that will make your children feel loved and valued by both of you.
Having a high-conflict co-parent makes it hard to raise your children together, and they are the ones who most feel the effects of having divorced parents.
If you have tried talking to your partner, but they still make co-parenting hard, you should talk with an expert.
Some of the professionals’ advice you might get on dealing with your high conflict co-parent include:
Keep your children first
Remember that no matter what happened between you and your ex, your children had nothing to do with it, and their happiness comes first.
With that in mind, do not make your feelings for your ex come in the way of giving your children the love of both parents.
You could schedule visitations for your partner, and children’s sleepovers at their place, and invite them to your children’s games or events.
Set boundaries and stick to them
This is one of the best measures to ensure that you and your partner are part of your children’s lives without being toxic to them or each other.
If you come up with a parenting law, for example, how often your partner can see the children, where they can see them, or how long they can stay with them, ensure you stick to that.
You should also be keen about how often you speak to them and what you speak to them.
When speaking to your partner, ensure you talk to them about things only concerning the children, and don’t overshare information, especially about your personal life.
This will give them a better opportunity to attack you and might use the information you provide them against you in the future.
Don’t react to negative comments
Your high conflict partner might try their best to try and make you feel like the bad parent or like you are responsible for breaking the family apart.
Comments like this might get to you, and you might be tempted to react in anger, making you like them.
This will not only worsen your relationship, but it could also affect the kids. If they bring up comments like those, some of the responses you can give include:
- I am not comfortable with this discussion
- Can we talk when you calm down?
- Ignore the comments
Remember, you might try defending yourself or show that you are a good parent, but you will never change what your high conflict co-parent thinks.
Reacting to those comments sometimes makes the situation worse.
Relation: Can Divorce Cause PTSD?
Don’t bad-mouth your partner, especially in front of your kids
The key to co-parenting is ensuring your children enjoy the company of both parents without having to choose sides.
Therefore, even if your co-parent is verbally abusive to you or makes you angry, never bad-mouth them in front of your kids.
This will make you look the same as your co-parent, or even worse.
Instead, try to make your children understand why you and your ex are not together and reassure them that you love them.
This will be good for your children’s mental and emotional health, and you will also be setting an excellent example for your children.
Sometimes, your children might come to you with nasty comments about you from your co-parent. Some things you can say to them include:
- Daddy/Mommy and I would have loved to be together, but we had some disagreements that made that impossible.
- Daddy/Mommy gets angry sometimes, but they don’t mean what they say or do.
- This is a grown-up issue, and I’m sorry you are in the middle of it. We will discuss it better.
We both love you so much even though we are not together.
- If you ever feel like I did or said something wrong, ask me or talk to me directly about it.
Remember that if your child hears both of you saying mean things about each other, they will feel the same way and will not hesitate to say those things back because you have made it a norm.
You can’t control how your ex behaves or what they say about you, but you can control what you say and do.
Most importantly, you can show your children what healthy parenting is.
Apply parallel parenting
This parenting method allows your children to enjoy both parents without you and your ex having so much contact. Some ways to implement this include:
- Having a third-party facilitator
- Communicating only when necessary
- Have a parenting document or notebook to notify each other about the children’s progress like health, behavior, and needs. This can be physical or in the mail.
The key to co-parenting is ensuring that your children enjoy the benefits of having both parents in their lives without feeling the effects of the conflict.
Therefore, you have to look for a technique that works for you and your ex but, most importantly, benefits your children.
With a high conflict co-parent, this is harder, but with the above advice, it can be better.