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A Guide To Co-Parenting With A Toxic Parent (Without Losing Your Mind)

You can't wish this person out of your life or change the past, so it's best to deal with it.

Motherhood

Co-parenting after the relationship is over can be difficult and take years to master. In a perfect world, there's a compromise, active listening, and healthy rules of engagement. But, when you're dealing with an irate person, the simplest decision can wreak havoc. You can't wish this person out of your life or change the past, so it's best to deal with it:

How to Tell Your Dealing With A Toxic Person

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A "toxic parent" is often defined as narcissistic, mentally ill, abusive, emotionally immature, or someone having alcoholic or addiction issues. You cannot co-parent with a narcissist or someone dealing with their issues. Co-parenting requires shared effort and shared intent. No amount of flexibility will completely shift the narrative unless the other person wants to. Here's why:

  • They do not share the same goals as you.
  • They cannot and do not put the child's best interest before their own.
  • They minimize, deny, or shift blame.
  • They try to intimidate or isolate you or the children.
  • They exhibit signs of parental alienation, which is the process and the result of psychological manipulation of a child into showing unwarranted fear, disrespect or hostility towards a parent, relative or others.

Sans children, the obvious decision would be to cut all ties and never look back. Unfortunately, that's not always an option. And in the majority of cases, kids are better off having a relationship with both biological parents. So when your ex happens to be toxic or narcissistic, parallel parenting may be your only choice.

What Is Parallel Parenting?

According to Psychology Today, parallel parenting is an arrangement in which exes can co-parent through disengaging from each other and having limited direct contact in situations where they have demonstrated that they are unable to communicate with each other respectfully.

One of the biggest differences between co-parenting and parallel parenting is when co-parenting, you maintain a relationship with your ex. Some strive to have a real friendship, while others simply stay civil with one another and communicate regularly about their children. If only the other person was built for that!

Disengaging doesn't have to be a final decision. It can exist for some time while the dust settles between you and your ex, allowing both of you to heal from old wounds. Ultimately, it comes down to agreeing on such an arrangement and figuring out how you'll handle major decisions and their day-to-day routine. Most important, parallel parenting makes clear that both parents are equally important in a child's life regardless of the hostility and acrimony between them.

The higher the conflict level, the greater the need for specific details in a parallel parenting plan. If you're unable to work it out among yourselves, then it's time to draw a line in the sand, which may require documentation.

Take Legal Action

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The first approach to co-parenting is rarely seeking a lawyer, however, sometimes it's the only option. Before heading to court, there's mediation. A mediation session is between you, the other parent, and the mediator. A mediator is a person who is trained to help you and the other parent to figure out what is best for your family.

If you are unable to come to find a solution, then a court date is next; but it'll cost you. Be prepared to pay in coins, time, and emotions. This isn't a time for playing coy. Level up, sis! My best advice, keep a log of every interaction between you and the other parent because they may not play fair. I'm not a lawyer, but based on my experience, the judge makes the final decision. I benefited from receiving sole custody. This gave me the benefit of legal and physical custody. In most cases, establishing a shared custody plan is the goal.

Check Your Ego

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Co-parenting isn't about you, the sole focus should be on the child. When your goal becomes a way to make the other parent pay for their mistakes or doing things out of spite, no good karma can come from that. Yes, even when that person may be deserving of all the smoke. If you aren't careful, you can become a toxic person.

Your ego can cloud your judgment and how you parent. The constant need to prove how good of a parent you are can cause further strife between you and the other parent. Your child can sense when they're being used as a pawn.

The proof of you being a bomb-ass parent is in how well-adjusted the child is. Continue to pour into them.

Live your Best Life

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In the great words of A.J. Johnson: Mama gotta have a life too! Facts!

You can't meet crazy with crazy. Once you've established the details of your parenting arrangement, make sure you take some time for you too. You deserve to feel joy and are responsible for your happiness. The kids will be all right.

Featured image Shutterstock.

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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