You can be an amazing parent despite your abhorrent ex. This is the best news I have for you, because changing your ex is like nailing jello to the wall. You can show up and parent like a boss in spite of a toxic ex.
Your ex’s abhorrent parenting
Just a brief paragraph here – because I really don’t want to focus on your toxic ex. You are already spending way too much of your valuable brain matter doing that. This is just so that you know I hear ya!
Here are some of the nasties that my clients are faced with on the regular:
- ex denies access to the children’s medical or educational information
- the ex interferes in their parenting time
- ex empowers children to be rude to them
- ex disparages them in front of the kids
- the ex refuses to comply with a schedule
- the ex communicates excessively with children during their parenting time
- ex creates drama by overreacting to anything and everything
Don’t try to control the ex yourself
Here’s the thing about adults – they get to do and say whatever they want. This may be a tough pill to swallow but once you do, you will suffer a lot less. Stop trying to control the adults. Especially your abhorrent ex.
Use the legal system to create a written and signed parenting agreement with a framework of parenting time and protocols for communication on non-parenting time. Don’t be surprised when the ex doesn’t follow the rules of the parenting plan. Just document it and move forward. Don’t waste too much brain energy on these shenanigans.
Focus on your relationship with the kids
During your parenting time, just work on your relationship with the kids. If you want to have a loving relationship with the kids, you will need to think thoughts that create a feeling of love. This can be challenging when the children are under the influence of an abhorrent ex.
If the children are demonstrating alienating behaviour such as refusing contact, I am asking you to meet their coldness with warmth. This means digging deep to get past feelings of rejection to find empathy, compassion and unconditional love. It is really easy to mirror your child’s behaviour (disengagement, rudeness) back at them when you feel angry and resentful. This will not serve you and your relationship with the kids.
Find unconditional love by deliberately reminding your brain:
- your children’s behaviour has nothing to do with you
- they too are suffering
- they are stuck living with the person I have eliminated
- my child’s behaviour is a symptom of an illness
- I would love them if they were critically ill, no matter how they behaved
You are responsible for your emotions
Keep the toxic ex out of your home, your life, and most of all your brain. Have strict boundaries around communication with your ex and as much as possible do not engage.
Remove yourself from the drama by learning to regulate your emotions. You can’t change your ex but you can totally rewire how your brain interprets and deals with your ex’s nonsense. Take the time and spend the money on abuse recover therapy, mindfulness practice, coaching, yoga and whatever will achieve this emotional regulation. This will enable you to show up as the parent that you want to be, regardless of what the ex says and does.
Big picture thinking
Focus on the breakthroughs more than the breakdowns. Your high-conflict ex is there to teach you to become the boss of your brain. Stay in your lane and learn to become unaffected by his/her toxic behaviour. This will model emotional resilience and brain mastery to your children. Through you, they will learn boundaries and how to become untouchable.
There is an end to this shit storm and your kids will become adults. Eventually they will grow up and develop insight into the toxic behaviour from your ex. This too shall pass.