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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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Amira Unplugged / MTV

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Amira Unplugged

Amira Unplugged / MTV

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