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Reducing conflict when having to work with a toxic co-parent

Divorce is hard, and it can be hardest on the youngest members of a New Hampshire family. You may think that all you have to do is get through the divorce process and that's the end of the drama and the stress. Unfortunately, you may find that this is not the case if you have to work with a toxic co-parent.

You and your kids' other parent will likely have to remain in contact after your divorce, especially if you are sharing joint custody or you have a co-parenting agreement. The hard feelings he or she had before and during the divorce may not end once everything is final, and these feelings can harm what should be a mutually respectful and cooperative relationship. If you're stuck with a toxic ex, there are things you can do to make this partnership as painless and drama-free as possible.

Keep your cool 

It is not always easy, but you will have to work to keep your emotions in check, even when the other parent isn't. Not only does this make you the better person, it allows you to keep perspective and prioritize the needs of the children above all else. Other things you can do include:

  • Stay focused on the needs the children. When you are very clear about their needs and your goals as a parent, it lessens the chance of miscommunication.
  • Avoid conversations that are about anything other than your kids, their schedule and parenting issues. You do not have to continue to have fights about things unrelated to your kids.
  • It can also help to recognize the things that trigger a hostile reaction in your ex and work to avoid them. This can help you have conversations that are more peaceful.
  • Avoid speaking negatively about your ex. This is best for your kids' emotional and mental health, but it can also help you develop a sense of respect for him or her.

At the end of the day, you are only responsible for yourself and your reactions. While you cannot make a toxic co-parent act differently, you can take steps that will help diffuse tension and make life easier for everyone. It is also helpful when you have a clear and thorough custody schedule and parenting plan in place, as this will help you avoid complications going forward.

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