Co-parenting with a toxic ex-spouse | Thestar | #parenting

Today, I would like to start another co-parenting mini-series.  I have not forgotten about some co-parents who may be trying to change their co-parenting relationship and situation, but possibly struggling because they may be co-parenting with someone who, in their opinion, may be toxic, so today I begin this new series titled, “Co-parenting with a toxic ex.” 

Over the next many weeks, this series will include many topics from defining toxic, to a different style of co-parenting. I am sure you are aware that if high conflict co-parenting and co-parenting with a toxic ex is emotionally exhausting for you, then you certainly realize it is also emotionally affecting your child(ren).  

Normal challenges in relationships are just that, basic, normal challenges. A toxic relationship by definition, however, is a relationship characterized by behaviors on the part of the toxic partner that are emotionally and, not infrequently, physically damaging to their partner and also characterized by insecurity, self-centeredness, dominance and control. 

You may understand and recognize the term toxic, if you are co-parenting with someone who, by that definition, is toxic. Maybe the emotional damage is by and from walking on eggshells. Maybe your ex has become emotionally and verbally abusive to you and maybe even your child(ren). Are they controlling or intimidating to you and or your child(ren)? The concern of this is still impact and effect on children, so arm yourself with knowledge on the subject. Read books and articles, check out online resources such as support groups on the Facebook platform, or seek outside help from a mental health professional. If you feel you are co-parenting with a toxic ex and that is your experience, then this series will help you. 

Be thinking about “boundaries” that you can comfortably put in place to begin necessary change in your co-parenting relationship, if it is toxic. In my workshop (The Co-Parenting Workshop), I include a quiz that does not take place of a professional diagnosis, nor is it considered part of a consultation, but is to raise awareness to the possibility of being in an abusive or toxic situation. No one is required to answer the questions out loud, as it is to provoke thought in determining if they may need to seek outside professional help for their situation, if they determine that it is toxic or abusive. 

I want to share that quiz titled “Am I in and abusive or toxic situation?”  Simple yes or no answers will provoke thought. 

1.) Do you feel nervous or afraid to be around your partner?

2.) Does your partner accuse you of cheating or flirting?

3.) Does your partner check up on you?

4.) Does your partner intimidate you, or put you down?

5.) Do you feel afraid to disagree with your partner?

6.) Do you feel obligated to have sex to keep peace?

7.) Does your partner blame you for their abusive behavior?

8.) Does your partner threaten you?

9.) Do you feel you are constantly walking on eggshells?

10.) Does your partner keep you from family or friends?

11.) Are you avoiding family or friends because of abuse?

12.) Do you lie to family and friends to cover up abuse? 

This is a short list of questions, but a helpful guide for you to determine if you might be in an abusive relationship, or if the relationship has elements in it that are or could be considered toxic or abusive. Seeking professional help to make that determination is a suggestion, if you have answered yes to any of the questions. 

Next week’s column will be about “setting boundaries” for your toxic ex. 

I hope you all have a great week.  

Kari Clemmer, a DeKalb High School graduate, is author and instructor of The Co-Parenting Workshop and instructs co-parenting education in Dallas. Visit the Co-Parenting Basics Facebook page for more co-parenting information and live co-parenting lessons. Send questions to Kari.clemmer@aol.com


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