5 Tips for Co-Parenting When You Can’t Stand Your Ex

GoodTherapy | 5 Tips for Co-Parenting When You Can't Stand Your ExThe process of divorce is hard enough, but when you have to co-parent with an ex who has become the bane of your existence, things can get worse. Some parents become better at being caregivers after divorce because they find their own voice and style outside the relationship. Others transform into an unrecognizable version of themselves, making parenting a horribly intolerable experience. Either way, when you can’t stand the person you are parenting with, life can become a drag, and the battle becomes exhausting.

If you are struggling to co-parent with an ex you despise, here are five tips to help you manage the experience:

1. Reduce your ex-pectations:

Expecting your ex to be the kind of parent you need him or her to be creates frustration and disappointment. While some exes flourish as parents after divorce, others become ornery and annoying. The rule of thumb is to expect no more than the ex was doing in the marriage, and brace for less now that he or she has other priorities. Even if you think he or she should be doing a better job, remember that it’s not up to you to police your ex’s parenting.

2. Try not to be a hater:

Hate is a very strong word, but when it comes to an ex, there may not be a lot of other words (that we can use here, anyway) to describe the level of negative feelings you might have. However, to hate causes YOU stress and makes it hard to parent effectively. Get some professional help to move from hate to tolerance to see if that makes co-parenting any easier.

3. Look through your child’s eyes:

You are most likely making your children the priority when it comes to co-parenting, but sometimes the mind can become clouded with negativity. Empathy is a great stress reducer, and it can really help to shift a detrimental perspective. Try to see your ex through your children’s eyes, a view that is most likely idealized and positive. Children will do anything to maintain an attachment to a parent, even in the face of horrible behavior. You can learn from their innocence.

4. Let go of control:

Co-parenting with an ex is one big lesson in letting go. You may not approve of your ex’s parenting style or what he or she does with the kids during their time, but this is mostly out of your control. If your ex is stonewalling you and refusing to share information about your child’s well-being, you need to manage that anxiety. Your ability to relinquish your illusory power will not only reduce your frustration and stress, it will open space for you to enjoy your time alone. You cannot change your ex with your will and desire to be right. You can only model with the hope of being a positive influence.

5. Value your influence:

Having your kids half the time (or sometimes less) may invoke a feeling of powerlessness with regard to your parental influence. All parents worry about scarring their children emotionally, and divorced parents may fear that the parenting going on in the other home may damage their little ones. If you are a parent who dreads letting your kids go with your ex, or who is concerned about your lack of authority, try to remember that whatever you are doing will be enough. If there is another (or new) partner involved, stay grounded in the fact you are the primary parent and no one can replace you.

Your children love you, are attached to you, and need you to be strong and centered as the “good enough” parent that you are.

© Copyright 2013 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Andra Brosh, PhD

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Lindy

    April 17th, 2013 at 1:27 PM

    I remember growing up my parents hated each other but didn’t separate or divorce because of me. they had constant arguments and fights about things and never even tried to renew their relationship. sometimes even now I feel bad about putting them through it all. after all they stayed together because of me, they didn’t have to but they did for me.

    as for being respectful to each other after a divorce is concerned, yes that is important. not just for you or your ex but for the children. they will learn from what they see and experience and we cannot change that.

  • BetsyAndrews

    April 17th, 2013 at 3:28 PM

    The most important thing to remember is that your kids are watching you and your ex every step of the way. They see how you treat each other and this in turn shows them how they should act in their own adult relationships. We have to be a good role model for our kids and a good parent for our kids even when we have to be around someone that we really don’t like all that much. This is their other parent that we are talking about here, and you don’t want to be the one who carries the blame for turning your child against their mom or their dad. Sometimes I think that the adults forget that they need to be adults for their children and show them what it means to respect others even when we don’t much feel like doing that anymore.

  • joan

    April 17th, 2013 at 11:48 PM

    keeping your problems with your ex away from the children would be the best advice. have seen kids suffer as a result of parents having conflicts. and guess what the parents think? that they are putting up with each other just for their kids and are doing a great job as a parent individually!

  • mary p

    April 18th, 2013 at 3:52 AM

    There are some divorces that are so contentious that it is difficult for the parents to even be in the same room with each other. What I always tried to concentrate on was the fact that at one point I did love this person to create another life with him, and that alone earned him a little more respect than maybe what I was willing to give immediately following the divorce.

  • Russell

    February 16th, 2015 at 7:13 AM

    I have the same situation. So, I stopped the text communication and now answer or call by email. Now I have nearly all communication in writing that I can show for co-parenting therapy, if she will go, or litigation if necessary.
    Or to show my own therapist for personal skill development.

  • Jen

    August 19th, 2015 at 4:35 AM

    Wow.. that is an amazing answer. Russell, after reading all the responses on this site I am impressed that you would save emails for self-development- that alone show an incredible amount of self development! Wish my ex would think the way you do…

  • Edith

    April 18th, 2013 at 1:41 PM

    My ex-husband and I tried this for a few months after we fell apart. Trust me, I gave it my all and he did too, as I can imagine. But our differences just didn’t let us maintain peace and harmony in the house and so we decided to go our separate ways. The kids are with me and he sees them every weekend. This is a far better arrangement than what we had then. Sometimes both parents together may NOT be the best option for the children too.

  • Sally High

    April 18th, 2013 at 8:32 PM

    It’s important to remember that the adults must set an example and learn to agree to disagree at times. Do not allow the kids to be brought into the middle of adult issues. It is unfair and they are forced to chose sides and start to lose their innocence. The exe’s need to understand that they may not get along but they need to put their game face on when dealing with their children.

  • Gabriella

    April 19th, 2013 at 3:55 AM

    One of my worst memories from childhood was the fact that my parents, even though divorced, were still fighting all the time. Usually it was about me, so you can only imagine what this does to the psyche of a young girl. I always thought that every fight, every harsh word, was my fault, and that if I was a better child then maye they would be better to one another. I see now that that was wrong, they just did not like eaxh other and it had nothing to do with me but you can’t really understand that when you are young.

  • hopeless

    October 24th, 2014 at 3:28 PM

    My ex always says I don’t communicate when it’s vise versa. He takes the children without me saying bye to them. He portrays that he’s scared of me when I’m 5’2″ and am way smaller than him. I feel helpless like I can’t do anything. I cry when I go home because I don’t want to show the girls how I feel. I don’t want them to get affected or say mommys crying and then they start crying. The teacher found out he puts inacurrate times on the sign out sheet. Its all bulls**t. I don’t know what to do. I got a restraining order granted and he cried to the court saying he doesn’t know why I’m acting like this.

  • christine

    September 29th, 2018 at 9:00 AM

    i relate to this exactly. God help us.

  • Tia

    November 1st, 2014 at 11:16 PM

    I am in. The same boat. My ex is an emotional abuser that feels like everyone has done him wrong which in return it’s actually opposite. At this present moment he refuses to answer any calls and will only text. When I go to pick up our child he will not speak to me. I mean he will literally be staring at me and texting me at the same time. I fed him or I gave him a bath. If I ask him a question he will only respond back by text. It’s just another way of him feeling as if he has control. He will never communicate with me when he is going to pick our child up from child care until the last minute. Say I get off work at 5pm he will text at 5 or 5:15 and say I am on my way to pick up the child. But then he constantly wants to know how long befor I am at his house to pick up the child. If it’s his weekend I can never plan anything because I really do not know if he is going to pick the child up. He will literally text on that Friday at like 4 or 5 and say hey I can’t get the child this weekend. It’s just mess. If he does get the child for the weekend he constantly calls or he will say oh I guess you are out running the streets you can’t call to check on your child. Recently when visiting our child he took an old cell phone of mines that I was allowing our child to play with. I had no idea it was missing until he started to replay verbatim text conversation that I had had with friends and family members. I feel beyond violated. At this moment I simply pray a lot and ask God for guidance.

  • Russell

    February 16th, 2015 at 7:20 AM

    My ex is the same. Try to stop responding in text and switch to email. A written history of your communication can improve if you can show this to your therapist or legal counsel.

  • krob

    September 11th, 2015 at 9:00 AM

    Look into OurFamilyWizard has helped us greatly!

  • Tia P

    April 11th, 2015 at 7:39 PM

    My ex is the same way he even has gone so far as to have a supposed friend just unexpectedly text me and she knew a lot about my past

  • Angela

    October 8th, 2016 at 8:19 PM

    My ex is like that to if he knows I got a Birthday party coming up for a girls night out he will make excuses like ‘Can’t look after the kids’ or say he’s not a baby sitter. Anytime the kids have slept over with him he’ll be ringing all night. If I can’t get to the phone due to it being in my bag or to noisy to speak he’ll accuse me of being with men & that I don’t want to talk to or care about the kids. Even though are separated it’s like he still thinks he has control over me.

  • Shelly

    January 13th, 2015 at 12:40 PM

    It’s always a sad situation when parents can’t get along. I’m currently caught up in this situation. I’m the lucky step-mother that my husband’s ex hates. We’ve tried time and time again to reason with her but we get nowhere. We currently came across a different form of parenting, that we feel might just help, it’s called PARALLEL PARENTING. We’re going to give it a try and hope that the situation betters, for the sake of our daughters.

  • SharaJane

    March 30th, 2015 at 10:22 PM

    I am in the position of stepmama. And my stepson sees what his mother puts his father through and although the child has gotten great at walking away from their arguing with me. I find it hard to bite my tongue when she gets onto the child for going with me. She calls me the stranger and I’ve been his stepparent for 5 years now.

  • Kate

    August 3rd, 2015 at 9:24 PM

    I am having a hard time. My 48 year old ex cheated on me with the 19 year old babysitter. We were together 8 years and have three small children. I just can’t imagine my kids spending time with their Dad and his new “girlfriend”. I know they have to see him because he is their Dad, but it is so hard!!! Wish I knew how to move on from this.

  • Queenpringle

    December 15th, 2016 at 5:28 PM

    I’m trying to get over the situation too

  • nikki

    August 27th, 2015 at 6:27 PM

    Myself & my ex split up in the summer of 2012 after 10 years, we have two kids, a boy aged 11 1/2 and a girl aged 10. Our family life was totally dysfunctional, my ex was never honest, always leaving, always sneaking about, leaving me with all respeosiblities.
    Like i say we split in 2012 and until Dec 2014 he had no interests in our kids what so ever, he’d moved on, got a new life, and got back with an old flame, they moved in together- went on fancy holidays. I have always encouraged him to bé active in their lives, even when he got back with the home-wrecking old flame.
    Yeah i hated her, she is nasty, spiteful and doesnt have our kids interests anywhere in her cold arse heart but i love our kids more than i hate her- their happiness is what matters.
    My problem is : since contact with their dad in Dec 2014 his gf hasnt given them a chance to re connect with him, right from the word go she’s been replying to the kids texts when theyve messaged dad, logging in to their dads facebook and commenting on something said between our girl and her nan. My ex said something like his gf feels left out when he spends time with the kids- you got to bé kidding me, she feels left out, they havent had a dad for over 2+ years and when they did she’s straight in their. My ex’s gf flips out at the slightest hint of me and him speaking/texting- hence the reason she always has hold of his phone, to make sure we dont speak.
    I just want the pair of them to grow up or leave us alone- i cant co parent or even parrallel parent, they dont respect the kids needs/feelings, nor our boundaries. I have sought legal advice and have myself a solicitor to which my ex was furious, his gf more so as she took it up on herself to email my solicitor on their dads behalf.

  • Justin

    October 21st, 2015 at 7:02 AM

    Well, started in 2011 when i brought bm back to fl, after spending a year in texas(shes from there ,im not)it was fine. Little fights brusts out here and there, so she started talking to a guy about our problems (bad ,i know) .. 2 apartments and 8 dudes she cheated on me with later(yeah i kept going back,for my family) she had a baby by the last one,living with him. And they fight, its really hard. Been about 2years now, Our son , you can see and feel sometimes anger in him even tho He is just like me and acts like me (His Father) , we have a close bond. When its time to leave
    He doesnt want to go back. Its a real struggle to deal with sometimes and being a single parent, i know its co parenting. But whats co parenting if we dont text,talk,call one another… my point exclusively.. i am not bothered in getting into a relationship, i found that being just Me and My son is more rewarding.. but now i guess ill be open to a women that i see she could be right.. no hopes tho. All your emotions will smack you throughout this experience. Tuff stuff…

  • what a fool i was

    January 25th, 2016 at 10:55 AM

    Don’t waste your time trying to coparent with her. She sounds like my wife. Best bet…get a lawyer, get full custody of your son and have him see what a real parent is like! Cut her off completely!

  • Jen

    October 26th, 2015 at 11:06 AM

    Hello everyone. I have a son with the man i had a relationship for almost 9 yrs. To make the story short that relationship didnt work out well. Mynsin was use to seeing his father every week or sometimes twice a week but henhasnt seen him for almost 3 mos. I know he still mad at me just like how i feel towards him but it breaks my heart everytime our sons tells me he misses his dad and will start crying. Swallowed my pride and I tried contacting him but never responded. My son had left a voicemail on his phone but didnt call him back. We do not have any child custudy or court order and not getting child support from him. I dont know what to do. I do not want to call him again and ask to spend time with my son like i always do before. But at the same time indint wanna see my son breaks his heart and be the one getting affected. Pls help on whats the best thing to do. Thanks!

  • Ashley

    December 11th, 2015 at 1:07 PM

    I am going through a divorce and I have a 7 year old daughter and she visits with her father every Wednesday and every other weekend since the visitation she has been lying, her behavior has changed and she making herself sick in and out of school,she changes her story here and there I can’t tell if she is telling me the truth about things. Do you think it’s a good idea to ask her father to join us in one of her therapy session next week on Monday and find out what is going on with her and why she has been acting this way I don’t know what else to do.please help us thank you very much…

  • Eliza

    December 11th, 2015 at 3:50 PM

    You might ask your daughter’s counselor about this. The counselor would likely be able to advise you in this situation and let you know what would be most helpful for you and your daughter and your relationship.

  • Tony

    December 15th, 2015 at 12:56 AM

    Hi, at first I hated my ex wife for things she had done, but now we seem to get on okay. We have 2 boys, aged 8 & 9, i do not moan at their mum to come and see her children nor do I ask for any financial help from her, I have very little contact with her so that I don’t get frustrated, she has my boys phone numbers to see if they are ok. I hope that because my boys see that I do not show any bad feelings towards their mum that it will rub off on them and they will grow up realising that no matter what it’s better to be happy that hold a grudge or resentment

  • Jenn

    December 20th, 2015 at 11:51 AM

    How do I handle situation where my ex plays around alot and I think is immature and the things he does that he think is funny, I do not find funny and in my opinion, it is just mean. And I hate to see my kids playing along with him and think it’s funny also, but I dont. I don’t want them to be like that because I do not like it or find it funny or nice. I don’t want to get mad at them because their dad thinks it’s ok and encourages it but I don’t think it’s ok for them to be like that to others.

  • C thomas

    January 9th, 2016 at 10:22 AM

    How should I handle a situation in which my ex-husband shares with our son (who’s 15 years old) all of the emails I send him??

  • Theresa

    February 25th, 2016 at 9:15 PM

    Good advice but it’s really biased. While stating that it is okay to be upset and stressed out dealing with an impossible ex – this unfortunately generalizes all unbalanced co-parenting as something to be fixed in a scattered type of way. It may work for 20% but not for the 80%.

    This kind of advice doesn’t work well with survivors of domestic violence that is both male and female for the reason that it’s difficult being forced by the court to make your child(ren) see the parent that either pulled out a weapon to harm the other parent as a threat or beat the parent up in front of the children.
    Sometimes the abusive spouse goes after the children after harming their spouse.

    Police reports don’t do NOTHING in court 90% of the time because the abusive parent STILL gets to see their kids even though they’re the reason why divorce happened in the first place and their kids have anxiety or PSTD (post traumatic stress disorder).

    One client was raped in front of her kids by her ex husband and he got partial custody anyway even though she had numerous police reports and an order of protection.

    A man I grew up with was held hostage by his ex wife – she had a loaded shotgun near his head and the kids walked in on it – thankfully the middle child called the police in the middle of her yelling at him for catching her with his best friend in their marital bed.
    After an hour standoff – she was arrested.

    I had to get the kids and they remained with me temporarily until their dad found a new apartment – he had very little living relatives and they lived outside of the United States. I can’t tell you how stressed out those children were seeing a gun to their dad’s head. The youngest one had nightmares for 2 months straight. I had to get them all therapy. What angered me to no end was that the stupid magistrate granted the crazy mother unsupervised visitation told the dad that he was a poor excuse for a father; and there were days she would keep the kids over 4 weeks. She wasn’t charged with kidnapping.

    Another client who fled her abusive ex husband, ended up bringing her kids around a jealous woman that hit her kids while the father did nothing and harmed his own children for telling him about his girlfriend. The mom expressed this in court with police reports and the magistrate was indignant and refused to modify the visitation. She told the mom that she would be imprisoned for speaking up for her kids and withholding her kids from being in a dangerous home.

    There are many cases like those and so much grief could prevented if the judges/magistrates asked the parents what would work aka mediation. That won’t happen because judges/magistrates would be out of a job.

    The court officials don’t know what the children of divorce/survivors of sexual/verbal/physical abuse is like, or their interests but yet they feel they know what’s best for them when they really don’t and make things worse for the child(ren).

    It’s utter B.S and puts single moms and dads and their kid(s) in very awkward and many times dangerous predicaments AGAIN leaving an abusive ex wife or husband just because they left to keep their children safe especially when there is/was child molestation going on.

    In the courts eyes they feel that the already emotionally damaged children still HAVE to deal with one or both psycho parents “to keep them together.” Morally doing that is wrong because if that was the case then divorce wouldn’t happen if everything was all honkey dory. Children are the ones who get hurt the MOST out of divorce and being abused and does the courts care? Hell no.

    All they see is digits: court numbers and monetary. Families aren’t people or human to them. Most court officials are prejudiced, racist, and sexist against single dads or dads who’s paying child support and always there for their kids for visitation.

    A lot of magistrates and very few judges abuse their power – they are the epitome of douchebags for siding with deadbeat mothers and fathers ONLY for the reason they showed up to court. Coming to court doesn’t constitute as being a caring parent.

    They like to threaten custodial moms and dads with arrest and jail time while being extremely lenient on the messed up parents. To make matters worse, most court officials talk really badly about single parents while praising deadbeats “for trying”.

    It’s immoral and pathetic. I feel that family court is definitely flawed and an absolute failure to the families in abusive situations and flawed which is why I quit working there.

    The majority of judges and smaller number of magistrates truly care about the children and have no problems assisting the families who need dire help. Most judges and some magistrates come from divorced homes themselves and go out their way for children to get therapy and support the single moms and dads raising their children with little to no familial help.

    So while your advice is okay, it’s again really biased and narrow visioned because you’re leaving out the demographic of abused single moms and dads entirely that will not be able to carry out your suggestions based on the fact that they JUST SIMPLY CAN’T because of fear but must do so because court tells them to.

    I hope you don’t have the notion that single moms and dads who are survivors of domestic violence “must get over it for the betterment of their offspring” because to even fathom that is wholly ignorant. I hope you or anyone you know or love goes doesn’t endure or ever go through domestic violence then divorce then have to deal with court for years with the abuser.

  • JeM

    August 24th, 2018 at 12:40 AM

    I realize your comment is over two years old, and you may never see this. If though, by chance you do, would it be possible for us to chat privately? I am in a very difficult situation with my two abusers and 4 children, and it is causing them so much harm. I am becoming more afraid of what lengths these two dads (and their gf’s) might continue going to; there aren’t many things left that they haven’t done. It’s scary and crazy this obsession they both seem to acquire and hold control over me by keeping the only thing that truly matters to me, my babes. They are well beyond harming them psychologically, etc. Neither see these kids as anything but extensions of themselves… tools … to either gain admiration or to harm me. It’s dark and nasty, yet all my kids CAN really do is continue to try to win their affection. Unfortunately I didn’t ‘get it’ until it was far too late, and gave them fathers that will never live the honor of that name…
    And by my experience, the courts are either intentionally clueless or genuinely lacking some fundamental psychology. Should’t they also have a keenness on pathologies for their criminal cases? Surely this is not a new idea that just a few of us have ‘woken up to.’ I don’t get it… whatsoever. They see acts committed against the laws of the land every single day, right? So they have to know that at least some of those found guilty, have no respect for the laws, right? That some portion of those offenders are not just making mistakes, rather they are insiduous or malicious or intentional , right? Do the judges think that none of them are parents, also? If they are keen to that on the criminal side, why would it be abandoned on the family side? Which, imho itself is ridiculous. They should spend time specializing in one area… AND I also personally think that at the very least we should be able to have jury trials. Instead of depending on one person (judge) to determine our family’s future, at least we could have a few more opinions thrown in the mix!

  • Lily

    March 31st, 2016 at 4:04 AM

    I am in a situation were i was only with my ex for just under 2 years. He smoked and had smoked weed in the past. Up to the point were we got a place of our own he hadnt touched it but then our new neighbour smoked it and so he started buying it again. Obfell for the lies that it was a one off or that he would stop. And id left several times amd gone back to him believing he would change. To make things worse i had anxiety and he didnt help much with that either. I got pregnant after 9months and had our daughter 2months early. It was a stressfull time for me as he did nothing to help me throught out and i had to do everythig myself. Obviously he denies this and pretends he dis everything he could.. so that includes staying in bed all day or smoking joints. When i left for the last time in september 2015 i took my 3 month old daughter with me… he expected me to leave her there with him…
    anyway he didnt see her for 5 months after that because he had threatend to have full custody of her and take her away from me so i tried to get contact sorted at the centre and it took sumtime before they arranged everything. It started of fornightly on a sat afternoon 2-4 but he now sees her weekky at the same time same day. He told me his work hours were pick amd choose but he has cancelled 3 times so we have only had 4 sessions. He is fighting to have our daughter at his night half of the time but will not respect the fact that i dont want her around any smoking let alone the fact that he smokes weed. She is only just turning 1 so she dosent even understand who he is and whats going on.. she has obviously formed a strong bond wih me as she is with me all the time but she is still getting used to who my ex is. I dont know how to handle the situation best because i dont feel ready to let her go there half the time when he cant be honest with me or not smoke around her. He even said to my face that nobody has any proof and he can do what he wants with her. After he threatend to take her off me i feel scared and anxious about kettin her go there half the time and that he wouldnt take care of her properly. Is it just me being stupid or does anybody else feel that she would be too young and upset if she stayed there half of the time… she doesnt settle around anyone really except me 😕

  • Trisha

    June 5th, 2016 at 3:28 PM

    thanks for such a great information nice blogging.

  • Jacqueline

    June 27th, 2016 at 5:39 PM

    It’s also worth appreciating that a step-mum / dad is another ‘set of eyes’ overseeing your kids wellbeing in your absence. This thought lessened the blow when my ex married another. I learned to appreciate instead of hate. xXx

  • Martin

    August 5th, 2016 at 10:16 PM

    My Ex and I went through a painful separation. We were never married and our relationship ended when our daughter was just one. At the time we lived together and I established my legal rights for her as I was an unmarried father with none. I can still say it was the hardest decision I ever had to make. She continued to date while we still lived together while I worked full-time, took care of our daughter full-time, and financially supported all of us. She went out and partied every night. In the meantime, she continuously berated me as a deadbeat dad. We finally resolved custody in mediation and both completely separated. Not even a month she has been in her new place, she had a random guy she met move in with her and out so she can use him financially. She consistently lies about everything pertaining to our daughter, hardly spends time with her, and also leaves our daughter with a man she hardly knows. Although our daughter is only two, she has bad dreams and talk’s to me all the time and I can tell this is all affecting her poorly.

    It’s so sad when someone you once had a child with, loved with all your heart and becomes someone unrecognisable and pretty much your enemy. I applaud those who are able to get along with their ex because it feels like I have a long road ahead.

  • Tom

    October 3rd, 2016 at 12:27 AM

    I stressed a lot because my ex seem to be playing mind game. She would tell me I need to come get the kids at this time or that time, when I know she have plan to go out for fun, like if she is going out of town on a mini-vacation she would say I can have the kids but won’t let me pick up the kids the evening before the day she leave. She would expect me to be at her place early in the morning so she can leave on her plan time. There would be time she tells me not to give the kids this or that and then later I would see on her facebook account a picture of the kids having what she told me not to give them. Other times I feel like it’s a joke being played on me, if she is mad at me she would block me on her facebook account and after she cool down within a week or two add me back on, all this is stressing me out. I am not doing so well as of the moments, I am trying my best by just ignoring her when she is angry and when I go pick up the kids I mostly tried to call her new man to get the kids ready so I could pick them up, my kids call me daddy but i think she or her new man is telling them to call me uncle instead, the older one know she have two daddy and one mommy, but the younger one would call me uncle when i go pick him up at her place, then call me daddy when we get to my place. I made a lot of mistake and I know I cause her a lot of pain when we were a couple, but I am trying to change and be a better person. I just want to spend time with my kids without having to deal with all her childish mind game. Example would be I drop of the kids, called her new man saying I am dropping the kids off are they home, he would tell me he is not home but my ex is. I get there, called and texted but no answer from her then I go ring the door bell. She come out and said what I am i doing, that I am not welcome to her place (she believe in that me being in her house cause bad karma) so i tell i am just dropping the kids off. She tells me next time call her (Her new man usually come out to get the kids when I dropped them off) I tells her I called and texted but she never answer and don’t mention that I don’t want to wait 10-20 minute when she is home to come out and get the kids. I never been into her place since we broke up or would i want to go into) Sometime I wish I could just have the kids and not deal with her at all, just wishful thinking. Please help give advice, I am thinking of meeting on neutral ground to pick up and drop off the kids like a public place.

  • perry

    December 16th, 2016 at 6:57 PM

    I have read most of your comments: Russels in particular about emails for paper trails this is great if your preparing to go to court or defend yourself from allegations etc… but this issue here to me is how find that balance between not feeling shit on or taken advantage of and being empathetic. It’s a tough one and I’m no expert but I have been through one of most insane custody battles with my ex, she is aggressive and confrontational, a liar, histrionic the works. My advice use personal indifference, really life is way too short. Move on mentally, and remember these adversarial issues are really ego based and 98% BS. Take the high road not for them but for you… remember, this mantra and do it everytime they try to get the best of you.
    ” I love and approve of myself, no person, place or thing can control me, I am free” because, in reality, it’s true.
    If you don’t believe in monsters they can’t scare you! So unless there’s imminent danger to you or your kids, just respond by I understand, I appreciate your concern, Ill take that under considoration, Il do my best, etc keep it short and non commital and not confrontational..
    Take a deep breath and move on to something thats fun!

  • consumedbyexshatred

    February 2nd, 2017 at 12:23 PM

    Any help appreciated…. No matter what I do to appease my ex, it’s never good enough. I’ve repeatedly tried to keep things out of court, but her need for control and for it to be “her idea” has constantly pushed us back into court. Further, she’s using the kids as a checkbook, which ultimately pushed me out of the state to a less expensive cost of living. Now, the court order states that the kids can fly anytime between 10am and 6pm, and although we are to target 4pm for return flights, I am allowed to choose the lowest cost flights within the window of 10am – 6pm. As I also have to provide a chaperone for the flights (purchasing 3 flights for each trip, each way, and then a 4th for each of the returns), it’s VERY expensive – especially when the kids don’t need a chaperone (another of her control issues). Once again, she’s refusing to approve of a flight – I have selected a 10:15am flight out, which is within the window and is significantly lower cost than the other flights that day (all priced the same, and all priced $30/each higher). As this adds up throughout the year, and she’s constantly complained about the flight times chosen and my rational (costs) for choosing them, I’m standing firm in my selection. Further, I have an immune deficiency due to treatments and with her constantly sending the children sick, I would prefer to not spend HOURS in the airport waiting for the return flight – the selected flights allow me to return, waiting only 35 minutes in the airport, versus 3.5 hours!!!!! This battle is constant with her need to control and bully. The verbiage in the order was actually HER idea, and my willingness to compromise, and I just KNEW this would allow her too much room to interpret to her whim. But, my advocate says she’s in violation of the court order. Any advice here?

  • Jaklilah

    February 6th, 2017 at 5:11 PM

    I feel that it is extremely important for parents to find some type of positive common ground because in the end it is our children who are suffering.

  • John

    April 24th, 2017 at 1:54 PM

    How do deal with an ex who cheated on you, got pregnant and married and then moved out of state before you got divorced? My ex wife did this and I feel like she is toxic to my children. She only sees the kids on weekends but she constantly talks bad about me to the kids and acts like she is doing everything right somehow? It’s hard not to say things to the kids.

  • William

    August 29th, 2017 at 1:18 PM

    Co-parenting – What a challenge, especially when one Parent has to control every situation, no matter how big or how small or whether it’s for the best interest of the kids..
    Parent #1 to Parent #2 – Just wanted to get your thoughts on the following:
    – since your birthday is this Friday and the kids have school would you like for the kids to spend the night with you Friday? That way you will not be rushed Friday night at your dinner?
    – would you be willing to switch next Monday night to Tuesday night
    Parent #2 to Parent #1 – I feel more comfortable adhering to our parenting plan
    Parent #1 to Parent #2 – Ok – I’ll meet you at Friday night to switch kids
    Parent #2 to Parent #1 – Well, to be fair, you had the children overnight on your actual birthday. So I think it’s only fair, if I get the children overnight on my birthday.
    Parent #1 to Parent #2 – Sure, I’m willing to be flexible.
    Parent #2 to Parent #1 – What time would you like to pick them up Saturday? And, I will just meet you Monday at 3 PM.
    Parent #1 to Parent #2 – I would like to pick them up at 8Am Saturday morning. Monday – It will be closer to 4:30 before I will be able to drop them off
    Parent #2 to Parent #1 – The Kids are usually exhausted on Friday nights after their week at school and will likely sleep in till at least 830 on Saturday mornings so 9 AM works better Saturday
    Parent #1 to Parent #2 – We have plans at 9:30AM and it will take about an hour to get there. So, it would have to be at the latest 8:30 Saturday morning.
    Parent #2 to Parent #1 – The children and I have reservations at 3:30 PM on Monday, so I will meet you at the latest by 3:15 pm Monday.
    Parent #1 to Parent #2 – Sure, that’s fine, since that’s what you want, I’m willing to be flexible with my schedule

    How do you deal with this

  • Scott Mc

    January 4th, 2018 at 1:19 AM

    I’m a divorced Dad (roughly 4 years now). Our son is 8, going on 9. Legally, on paper, we have 100% joint custody. In reality, because our son has never slept in his own bed in his life and still co-sleeps with Mom at going on 9 . . . that makes it difficult for me to have him over, and I get the sense she has ZERO motivation to change matters. Another thing I struggle with is that “sickness” or “fatigue” is trumped up every time I’m due to be with my son, but it just doesn’t suit the ex at the moment. If I were to pick my son up from school w/o telling her first (although were legally joint custodians), she would have an absolute fit. But at least 60% of the time, when I ask if I can have our son over, she tells me that she and other moms (all divorced) have already made other plans to, say, take the kids on an outing. Does she consult me before making such plans? No. But she would be apoplectic if I failed to give her the notice she refuses to give me.

  • Karla

    April 16th, 2018 at 11:56 AM

    Im a step-mom to three beautiful little girls who have stolen my heart and made it theirs. when i started with my boyfriend a year and a half ago their mother wasnt in their lives she would come in and out as she pleased and didnt take the girls at all. now she is pregnant with some man and is about to have her fourth child. She now takes the girls 50/50 and wants to take the girls to vegas with her. my boyfriend stepped in when she left and became both a mother and father to his girls now the youngest of three doesnt want to come home with us anymore she throws a fit and refuses to talk to her dad when he calls on the weekends. what do we do?? we are so desperate and shes literally feeding their tiny little head with lies.

  • Steph

    July 20th, 2019 at 12:30 PM

    My ex-wife and I share a son who is now 18. I divorced her when my son was 6 years old. She is a man hater in the true sense of she hates men. Her 1st ex-husband molested 4 different family members girls, in which he was arrested. She still loves him to this day, but knew she could never be with him again, but also did not want to be alone forever either. I then came along (in which we had a child together) and I became her 1st victim of the punishment of what her 1st husband did. After 7 years, I could not take the abuse anymore, so I divorced, rather than stay and cheat. For this, she has grew this hate for me, as much as she could and more than she had since we were married . Not sure if it is the 150lbs she put on since the divorce or the sense no other man has been able to put up with her since we divorced. She has went to every single dating site, has dated every race that would give her a shot and not a single bachelor has wanted to stay/settle for her. I love my son and we do split him, in which he loves us both, but she has a HATE that will not stop. She does treat him like a slave at times (as she hates males in general), but he feels very sorry for her, so he makes up excuses for her. Since I have been gone, I have forgiven her for how she treats me, but her hate keeps on given. I try to look the other way, but I see what she is through my sons actions. I wish he could totally un-attach from her, like her other adult child did (the child she had with the molester). Her other child is close to me and my wife, even though she loves her mom still, but can’t be around her for long periods of time. Someday our son will graduate, get married and have children and “She” will be forced to deal with me, or be left out of his life. My job is to protect my son, specially from her evil wrath and for some reason he can not let go. It’s not that I do not want her to be his mother, it’s I do not like the hidden abuse she does to him. And yes, her whole family knows how she is, so they walk on eggshells around her and give’s her excuses. If you ask me, it would be better if she just vanished into thin air (no pun intended)! She is totally a loss cause, but I still have to deal with her in ways, because of my son, that I love so dearly and her daughter, who became very smart how to deal with her mom = distancing herself.

  • Sherrie

    July 22nd, 2019 at 9:49 AM

    Me and my ex got divorced back in 1985, he hated me and he still does. I tried and I tried and got no where. Well I will make this story very short. Try to co-parent and not hurt your children! My daughter just overdosed and passed away. This happened because of hate. Hate is not only strong but it destroys, and he still hates me. How sad that is has been 35 years and 1 daughter less and he still hates. This was my only child. I will struggle the rest of my life. Rest In Peace Jill, Love Mom

  • Perry

    July 23rd, 2019 at 8:31 AM

    Obviously my condolences for your terrible loss.
    But this issue of hate, for me my ex wife hates me, I’ve accepted that, now as for the kids they seem to be doing ok in my care. I wish that my ex and I can function normally but despite all efforts it doesn’t seem feasible at this point. So as a wise man said to me once “ your the author of your own book” while that is true, you can’t write the story for anyone else, ever!
    Which leaves us with the question, what do you do when the other half doesn’t want to bend be flexible or lighten up? Do you punish the children due to their narcissism.
    So that’s the real question.
    Answer anyone?

  • Andrew

    July 23rd, 2019 at 12:52 PM

    When the other half continues to be a bad co-parent you just have to keep trying to do your best to be a good parent. Easier said than done for sure. I have found a few ways to help deal with a toxic ex; setting boundaries, setting communication methods and limits, sticking to the facts and only communicate what is needed, zero bickering, be honest with your kids, be consistant, don’t act out of anger/don’t act when angry, try your best to decifer what child behavior is a product of your and your ex’s relationship or just a child being a child- discipline either way, bad behavior by your children is bad behavior. There is no perfect way to be determine how to punish your children in every scanario but those parents that do not punish are actually hurting their children in the long run more than helping. Unfortunately what happens in these types of situations is that one bad parent can cause the other parent to start a race to the bottom by trying to become the “COOLER” which basically enables children to become terrible humans.

  • Sara

    September 3rd, 2020 at 9:00 PM

    My ex has me so ostersized my two daughters no longer love me, they have now started saying things like You abused me at age 3 and when I see them by the state forcing them to see me they say things like Your dead to me, I dont have to love you , I hate you, etc. My children I had for 12 years have gone from my loving duaghters to my ostersized children and I now feel like I have no choice and no hopes of ever having them back. The ex has them and has totally gotten them to cut me and my whole said of my family out he is in contempt of court as I am the legal custodial parent. He violated the divorcee decree since last november. U feel at this point i will never get them back the children say things like ” I’m uncomfortable at mom’s house” so the state has basically said they don’t have to come home. With out fact checking and now I just don’t know what to do.

  • Heather

    March 30th, 2023 at 10:13 AM

    Mental health for adults, children, and manic bipolar depression, PTSD, trauma, grief articles are very helpful for me so thank you for all your great articles! Children psychology can teach all parents great lessons I just wish they were more mandated at birth of every child!

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