Parenting With a Toxic Ex? How to Make a Parallel Parenting Plan

Are you having trouble beyond getting along with your ex when it comes to parenting?

When it comes to parenting with a toxic ex and high-conflict situations where effective communication is impossible, parallel parenting is your best bet!

Creating a parallel parenting plan all starts with thorough documentation but there are other things you have to do to make this plan work.

Will it always work perfectly? No, but establishing boundaries and having clear arrangements will definitely reduce the chaos your toxic ex is creating in your life.

Signs You Are Dealing With a Toxic Ex

While your ex may just be salty because of the breakup, people usually get over it – especially when children are involved.

However, toxic individuals will drag out these feelings and hold their struggles against you for as long as possible.

If you’re not sure whether or not you are dealing with a toxic ex, here are some surefire signs:

  • They ignore your parenting rules.
  • They constantly talk you down, even to your children.
  • They won’t compromise with you on anything.
  • They refuse to pay child support or rub it in your face.

Overall, if you don’t feel respected as the parent of your ex’s child, you are dealing with a toxic ex.

What is Parallel Parenting?

In order to understand what parallel parenting is, let’s talk about co-parenting.

Co-parenting is an ideal situation where two individuals can parent separately and respectfully by being able to communicate about the child. It’s not always perfect, but the child’s best interest is always put first.

However, when it comes to parents who absolutely cannot get along, parallel parenting is used.

The main aspect of parallel parenting is limited and controlled communication. More often than not, toxic exes will use the child as a means to harass and exact revenge against the other parent.

Communication is limited to text or email and only involves information about the child. Nothing else about anyone’s life is shared.

Another part of parallel parenting is detailing specific arrangements to eliminate room for arguments as much as possible. The more detailed the arrangements, such as visitation and access, the less your toxic ex can make changes and create conflict.

Overall, parallel parenting is the perfect opportunity for you to detach yourself from your toxic ex and avoid frequent and unnecessary discussions that can lead to arguments and fights.

However, it’s important to understand that parallel parenting also means that each parent has control over their own parenting responsibilities and can make decisions when the child is in their care – whether you like these decisions or not.

But if ever you feel your child is in a dangerous situation with your toxic ex, don’t ignore it! You have the right to contact the proper authorities.

Before we get into how to create a parallel parenting plan, let’s go over these points of parallel parenting again:

  • Limited communication
  • Need-to-know information
  • Specific arrangements
  • Remove your ex from your personal life
  • Do not give in

How to Create a Parallel Parenting Plan

1. Documentation

When you are creating a parallel parenting plan, there are certain things you should try to document.

Even if your toxic ex won’t sit down and create a plan with you, you can use written communication to pin down the details so you can organize them along with proof of things that were agreed upon.

Here are some things you should include in your parallel parenting plan:

  • How you will split time with the child. This includes specifically stating which days your child will be with you and which days they will be with their other parent. This should also cover details like holidays, vacations, and birthdays.
  • The start time and end time for each visit. Clearly document specific pick-up and drop-off times to avoid misunderstandings.
  • Location for pick-ups and drop-offs and who will be transporting. If your toxic ex is particularly aggressive, you should choose a public location for pick-ups and drop-offs. Also, clearly establish who will be transporting your child.
  • Cancellations. Nobody can adhere to a visitation schedule perfectly, so it’s important to have a plan in the case of cancellations. This should include cancellation notice for planned cancellations and making up for lost time with the child.

2. Dispute Resolution

You should also determine a plan for dispute resolution. You’re probably not going to get your toxic ex to agree to this but it’s helpful for you to have a plan should a dispute occur.

For instance, you can state in your plan that important disagreements are to be dealt with by a mediator or lawyer.

However, you may have to learn how to pick your battles. To avoid conflict in your child’s life, don’t argue with your ex over everything. Learn to ignore what you can and think about whether or not pursuing a disagreement is worth it.

3. Remove Emotion

I know that dealing with a toxic ex can be angering and frustrating, but it’s important not to let those emotions into your interactions.

Be friendly, informative, brief, and firm when you communicate with your ex. You want to approach conversations with a business-like tone.

Even if they are provoking you, be firm and concise, saying only what you need to say.

4. Don’t Forget About Your Child

When you’re trying to parent with a toxic ex, it can be easy to focus on your struggles and forget that your child is involved as well.

Try to keep as much conflict away from your child as possible. Even young children can pick up on angry and vindictive vibes.

Remember that your toxic ex is their parent as well and they make take remarks you make about your ex personally.

Be supportive and validate their feelings. Give them a safe space where they can express their emotions.

Frequently Asked Questions About Parallel Parenting Plans

Do I need a lawyer to have a parallel parenting plan?

You don’t technically need a lawyer to have a parallel parenting plan, but keep in mind that creating your own is not a court order or legal document. This means that your ex does not have to adhere to it.

Without a court order, a parallel parenting plan is basically a guideline to help you through this difficult situation. One where you can use text and emails from your ex to substantiate the plan.

How is a parallel parenting plan different from a court order?

Court orders are parenting plans that are determined by a judge. Each parent is held accountable for this agreement and can get in trouble with the law if they break it.

Will the courts implement a parallel parenting plan?

They won’t call it that but if a judge determines that you and your ex can’t get along and it’s affecting your child, they will implement stipulations and rules in the court order that resemble a parallel parenting plan.

What if my ex won’t follow the plan?

If you created a parallel parenting plan to avoid going to court, you may have to if your ex decides to change arrangements and cause trouble. Again, court orders are legal documents that have to be followed.

Parallel Parenting with a Toxic Ex

In a perfect world, split parents would put all differences aside to give their child a happy and healthy life.

Unfortunately, some people believe their needs are more important than their child’s and will create conflict and chaos out of spite.

While a parallel parenting plan won’t make the situation perfect, it can make parenting with a toxic ex more manageable.

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