No one should have to fight with their current or former spouse for the affection of their children. And yet, this is the case for thousands of families every day. If your spouse or former spouse is underhanded, they might take it one step further to sabotage your parent-child relationship with your kids through lies or other manipulation.
The traits that may make someone exciting to date don’t translate well to parenting. And people do change over time, not always for the better.
If you do find that your former partner is trying to sabotage your parent-child relationship with your children, here are a few steps you can take to handle it.
Ways parents sabotage their kids’ future and how to stop it to save your parent-child relationship-
1. Find common ground through clear communication
The first step is to ask what you and your ex-spouse might do differently to encourage better communication between the households. Try and ask your ex what you all can do to create a healthy environment for the kids.
Ideally, get them to agree that parent-child relationship sabotage on either side ultimately hurts the children. It may be necessary to seek assistance from a family therapist to mediate.
2. Create defined boundaries
If your ex refuses to come on board to work as a team, then it’s time to create some definite boundaries prevent parent-child relationship sabotage. Don’t fall prey to the effects of their habits that sabotage the parent-child bond.
Examples include visit pick up and drop offs at public places only, and forbidding the parent-child relationship sabotaging parent access to your home.
Since emotions run high, it may be best to communicate strictly via text or email (not to mention you have documentation of negative comments in the event you end up in court).
3. Secure your communication channels
Technology is lending a helping hand, and there are several great apps out there to assist you in bridging the communication gap and are strictly about scheduling and the well-being of your children.
4. Stay in communication with your family attorney
Your ex or child’s biological parent may try to abuse the court system during or after your divorce to punish you. This can hurt financially, emotionally, and be a big drain on your free time. In this situation, you will need a family lawyer. They can argue before the court to point out unreasonable legal tactics they may be using and put an end to it, or seek restitution from the court.
5. Take responsibility for your new partner
In the event that an ex is especially vengeful toward your new partner, it is your responsibility to protect them to the best of your ability, even involving law enforcement if need be, along with protecting your parent-child relationship.
If your ex continually slanders your new spouse, put an end to it. You may need to block social media, emails, and even phone numbers on your partner’s behalf. You, as bio parent, should assume the role of handling all communication regarding the children with your ex. This will also help you prevent your ex from sabotaging your parent-child relationship.
Characteristics of secure, high-functioning co-parents
How do you know if you have a situation on your hands that demands immediate attention? Consider the following checklists which distinguish between functional and dysfunctional co-parenting relationships.
- Focus on kids’ emotional well-being
- Respects boundaries
- Positive and rational communication style
- Respectful of new partners and stepparents
The result of demonstrating these traits in your co-parenting lives? Having children who handle change well, are emotionally resilient and possess the courage to take risks. They have not one, but many adults in their lives who care for them and provide key resources: money, time, guidance, and above all, LOVE.
This has a direct impact on both their physical and emotional health: kids operating in this type of environment develop hardy immune systems and secure attachment styles. This creates a healthy parent-child relationship between you and your child.
Traits of low-functioning, highly-anxious and sabotaging co-parents
- Condescending or narcissistic
- Pumps kids for information about an ex and their partner
- Constant feeling of instability and even danger (physical threats)
- Household “walks on eggshells” to avoid confrontations
- Doesn’t pay child support/alimony on time (or at all)
- Inconsistency with visitation
- Keeps the child’s toys, clothes, etc.
- Abuses court system
- Uses children to communicate
- Vents resentments and anger regarding an ex with children
The potential result of children living with such toxic parents? They may suffer from deep emotional wounds all their lives and be prone to chronic anxiety.
Furthermore, studies have shown that these kids are predisposed to addiction and may encounter difficulties in achieving fulfilling romantic lives. Their immune system will be compromised by the constant anxiety and instability.
Finally, one of two outcomes may occur: they may be too insecure to take appropriate risks, or may choose to take inappropriate risks that could deliver tragic results.
Put a plan into action
Remember: you can only control what goes on in your household. Doing the best you can means creating and maintaining a safe, supportive space for your young ones in a difficult situation. Bear in mind that your kids will eventually grow up and understand that you are there for them. While you can’t change what happens in your ex’s house, you CAN concentrate your efforts on creating a healthy environment.
If your child’s father is doing all he can to slander you and alienate you from your kids, don’t fight fire with fire, fight fire with water.
Teach your children the value of honesty, and how to look at evidence to determine what is true and false. When they go low, you go high.
Put equal effort into maintaining a constant, consistent presence in your children’s lives. The bottom line is DON’T GIVE UP. You owe it to your kids to let them know and feel that you have fought your darndest to have a good relationship, and that you’re doing all you can to make the best of a bad situation.