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Co Parenting With a Hostile Ex
Why feel compelled to give the other parent too much info? For example, a friend of mine is going out of town this weekend with her children. Her ex husband has sole custody of the children. She gets visitation 4 days (2 weekends) per month. Her ex is extremely hostile and uncooperative and he really has no reason to be. He wanted custody for the sole purpose of emotionally torturing his ex and no other reason, in my opinion, so he has no reason to be hostile. He got what he wanted. He won. What gives? Why is he still so unpleasant? No matter what my friend has planned with the children, her ex will do his best to ruin those plans. Case in point, this weekend she is going to her 30 year class reunion. The children will be with her because it is in my friend’s home town where her parents still live. The children will have a chance to visit with their grandparents who they haven’t seen since Christmas. The children are excited to see their grandparents. My friend made the unfortunate mistake of letting her ex know her plans for the weekend. She was hoping that maybe she could leave early because it is a long car ride. She thought by telling him of her plans, and that it is a special event, he might understand and cooperate. Why she would think that after about 7 years of lies, manipulation and emotional torment escapes me. I know that if he knows her plans, he will just cause trouble. I know this because he always has and I believe he always will. For someone to continue being so hostile for that many years after the divorce, there is something wrong with that man. Anyway, my friend did have to tell her ex that she would be out of state. That is true. She has only a cell phone and the children have cell phones, too, that Mom pays for so it is not like Dad needs an itinerary. The Mom’s responsibility is that he know that they will be out of state, when they will return and how to reach them. That is all. She does not need to tell him all of her plans.
For some reason, I see this a lot. Parents often give their ex way too much information. There is no need to do this and if this is a person who has been nothing but bitter for years and years, you should really stop aiding them in their attacks on you because it hurts your children and you as well. When the marriage is over, you do need to learn to communicate for the children, but you should be turning this into more of a business type relationship, rather than try to turn it into a friendship. You share a history and a way of communicating with the person you were married to, one that can get in the way of co parenting. Especially if you have a hostile ex spouse to co parent with, you need to change the way that relationship works. You can do that without the help of the other parent. Here’s how:
1. Resolve your feelings toward the children’s other parent. Make sure that you know in your own head the relationship is over and that you want to move forward. No more staying stuck.
2. The relationship has to continue for the children and now you will consider it a business type arrangement.
3. Make sure of what your responsibilities are from all of your court order in regards to sharing information about the children. When it comes to your rights to information from the children’s school or medical clinic, you will get that information on your own. No need to ask you ask. Expect the other party to do the same. If they call asking you to get information for them, tell them that they should start doing that for themselves and give them all of the contact information they need to do so.
4. Be respectful anytime you need to deal with them. If they continue to call about things unrelated to the children, stop answering. Let them try forever if they want to. You don’t have to jump into the game. You are done with that now!
5. Do not share any information about friends of yours, purchases you make (unless it’s for the kids and the ex is responsible for half), people you date, job changes or anything else. There is no need to bring them into that stuff.
6. If communication is too hostile and your ex will not treat you with respect and continues to harass you, try a new way of communicating, either through email or Our Family Wizard, Optimal, Joint Parents, Custody Xchange or Share Kids. You could also use a shared email calendar with emails that are used for the sole purpose of matters pertaining to the children so the other parent needn’t have your personal email.
7. Document every time the other parent harasses you. Save every email in case you need to prove anything in court. If you need to file for a restraining order.
8. Document every time the other parent denies you parenting time or doesn’t exercise their visitation rights. You never know when you might need that information.
Stay business like and courteous, but do not accept being abused and harassed. Always know your parental rights and exercise them with or without the other parent. Be selective with what you share with them. They don’t need to know about your new life and the things you are doing unless it interferes with the children’s current schedule. Should you run into trouble, look for a mediator to make changes or consider getting a Parenting Time expediter to solve temporary parenting time changes to the current agreement. Should you need to involve an attorney, do so, just make sure to have all your documentation ready when you do.
Photo: Woman on phone by Ambro
About lifesdoorsmediationI am a mediator, Life and Divorce Coach and an Instructor of a High Conflict Divorce Program.
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