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Are you co-parenting with a toxic person?

When you got married, getting divorced one day was not an option in your mind. However, things happen and life changes, sometimes in very unexpected ways. When you made the decision to divorce, you were worried how it might affect your children. The good news is that children are highly adaptable.

When kids have difficulty coping with divorce, it's usually because of the way the adults in their lives are acting. Perhaps you'd like more than anything to work as a team with your ex, but it's just not possible because he or she has a toxic personality. In fact, that might have been a causal factor in your divorce. The more you understand about narcissism, the likelier you can co-parent without compromising your rights or your peace of mind.

Know what to expect

It's helpful to talk to family members or friends who have been through similar experiences. They can tell you what worked best for them and what didn't. While no two situations are exactly the same, you might still be able to glean some practical ideas from their insights and advice.

Toxic people don't typically make good co-parents. This is because they are often self-absorbed. They also are known to commit parental alienation in divorce, so if you see signs of this in your kids, it's important to know where to seek support to rectify the problem.

Don't take the bait

Your ex may go to great lengths to try to draw you into an argument or to make it look like you are the one who is combative. This type of passive-aggressive behavior can cause co-parenting disasters. It's perfectly acceptable for you to block your ex on social media. 

You might also incorporate written terms in your parenting agreement that specifies how your ex may correspond with you. For instance, if in-person conversations always lead to contentious disputes, you can require text messaging only or ask the judge to allow you to use website programs that exist nowadays to document co-parent message exchanges. 

Don't be afraid to set boundaries

You do have to interact with your ex because you have children together. You do not, however, have to allow someone to mistreat you or to undermine your rights as a parent. You don't have to allow your ex to show up unannounced on your doorstep, for example. You also do not have to engage in conversation with him or her if profanity or other inappropriate behavior occurs.

You also don't have to feel like you must handle such problems on your own. It's not uncommon to need additional support when trying to co-parent with someone who has a toxic personality. Keep your cool. Know your rights and don't be afraid to exercise them in court.

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