5 Tips For Co-Parenting With A Toxic Ex

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Co-parenting with your ex can be difficult even in the best of situations. When you and your ex don’t get along, the challenges can be even more intense. Trying to find the best solution for everyone in your family can be hard, but knowing different ways to communicate can make the process easier.

Whether the relationship ended because of toxic behaviors or you’ve started to notice behavior changes post-breakup, there are ways to recognize toxic behavior and work to make the relationship better for you and your children.

Signs Of Toxic Co-Parenting

A difficult co-parenting situation can be especially hard on children. Many times, signs that your ex is toxic can be seen in the ways that they deal with and talk to your children. Examples that demonstrate toxic behavior include, but are not limited to:

  • Talking badly about you to your child
  • Undermining your authority
  • Attempting to convince your children you’re untrustworthy
  • Trying to replace you with another person or romantic person
  • Belittling you and your parenting abilities.

These kinds of actions can take a co-parenting relationship from difficult to toxic.

Tips For Healthy Co-Parenting

1. Watch what both people are saying in front of the children

When you’re going through a difficult time with your ex, it can be easy to make a little comment or talk about what went wrong at the last interaction. But children can pick things up easily, and hearing issues from both sides of the divorce can be hard for them.

By not discussing issues in front them you can make sure they have a healthy relationship with both parents and create a boundary for yourself in how often you can talk about your ex.

2. Prioritize healthy communication

It can seem difficult to communicate with a toxic ex, but just like in any relationship communication is key. Finding the ways that work for you is important, whether that’s limiting communication to in-person meetings, email, or phone calls or restricting conversation to certain topics.

3. Consider using outside help

If your ex isn’t responding to communication or issues are impacting your kids, don’t be afraid to look for outside help. Whether this is re-looking at divorce agreements with a judge or lawyer, finding a mediator to start conversation, or seeking therapy, having an outside opinion can create a better agreement and dynamic for everyone involved.

4. Recognize dynamic and communication patterns

In order to make sure that you can have healthy communication, you first need to understand the patterns of your partner that aren’t working. By recognizing communication dynamics and identifying the issues, this will allow you to create solutions that work and will stick.

5. Set boundaries

In order to deal with toxicity, you need to set boundaries to preserve your own health and mentality. These boundaries can entail when you reach out, how much you see each other, or what you allow them to talk about with you. Creating boundaries can be a great way to begin to preserve your mental health and take care of yourself.

How To Take Care Of Yourself

When you’re dealing with toxicity in your life, it’s important to take care of yourself and focus on your mental health. To do this, you can find your support system, keep healthy boundaries, and take the time to process all the emotions as they come. Sit with the negative emotions as they come and make sure you take the time to process them. Leaning on your friends, family, or therapist can help you through the difficulties.


Co-parenting is hard for any divorced couple, but dealing with a toxic ex can make the process 10 times harder. By making sure to set boundaries and creating avenues for real communication, you can work to create a healthy environment for everyone in your family.

This article was written exclusively for Love What Matters by Anna Steingruber. Join the Love What Matters family and subscribe to our newsletter.

Read more about co-parenting:

‘I want to clean up the toys, but the mess makes it seem like they’re still here.’: Dad of 3 opens up about co-parenting struggles

‘Blended does not equal broken.’: Mom recounts beautiful blended family, co-parenting journey

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