Couple issues can easily boil over and affect your life in other areas. You have to be careful these problems don’t affect your relationship with your children.
Studies show that witnessing spousal abuse is as hard on kids as being abused themselves. We have every reason to think they’re as strongly affected by the criticism they hear about their parents. We know children often interpret comments against a parent as comments against themselves. We also know they often blame themselves when their parents are fighting or making life difficult.
Still, we know how difficult it can be to hide the hurt you feel. Here are a few ideas for processing those emotions so they don’t impact your children:
Journal – Record your thoughts and feelings in a secure location. You can do this by video, audio, text, and even handwritten notes or creative arts. Just make sure you store them in a secure manner. We know some parents who foolishly take to social media to air their grievances. Others make a song or painting depicting graphic or violent images and share them with other people. Don’t do either of these things.
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Resist the urge to spread negative content about your co-parent. It’s perfectly fine to say that you’re struggling or having a tough time parenting peacefully together. Those are acceptable things to say if you need public support. You can also join a group like the Father’s Rights by Dads Rights Facebook group. What you want to avoid is insulting or threatening your ex or arguing with them in the public eye or, especially, in front of your kids.
Limit Your Contact – Sometimes the key to controlling your emotions is protecting them in the first place. This is especially true if you have a manipulative ex who takes pleasure in triggering you. In the psychology world, there is something called the grey rock technique, which centers on becoming as uninteresting as possible to the other person.
Grey rocks aren’t remarkable. They’re not fun. They’re not a source of amusement. They don’t draw someone’s attention. They’re easy to ignore. That’s what you want to be when dealing with a nasty person. Follow these six steps to get started:
1 – Be Boring
Manipulative people often mine interactions for details. Random comments. Obvious good or bad moods. They thrive on having an “inside look” at your life, so it’s time to turn off the faucet. Be boring–and bored–by maintaining a dull voice and expression, as if you’re tired, and have nothing to talk about except child-related issues you need to deal with together.
2 – Take Away Your Attention
Some psychologists go so far as recommending that you don’t continuously look at the problematic person while they are speaking. You glance at your phone, or paperwork, or even a tree outside. Remember, act like you’re bored out of your mind. This not only robs them of the attention they’re seeking, but it also helps you distance yourself from nasty comments they might make to get a reaction. The trick is to not make it obvious what you are doing, as that can trigger your ex to escalate things if they feel that they are being blatantly ignored.
3 – Don’t Tell People You’re Grey Rocking
Spilling the beans to the wrong friend can result in your co-parent finding out what you’re trying to do, and not surprisingly, they’ll find it very interesting. Interact with them as little as possible and seem tired every time you’re together to avoid arousing suspicion. But don’t seem so tired that people will start to wonder if you are sick, that can backfire.
See a Therapist – Everyone has bad days, but if you’re having more bad days than not, seeing a therapist might help. A therapist can help you develop better coping skills and can help you process the stress of co-parenting in healthy ways.
That said, finding a good therapist can be a little like dating. You might have to interview several people before you find one that’s a good fit. Don’t be afraid to stop meeting with someone if things aren’t working out. Professionals will not take it personally.
You might also start your working relationship by setting goals. “In six months, I want to have better control while discussing custody with my ex.” “I need help saying ‘no’ to my co-parent.” “Help me deal with the sadness I feel after I drop my kids off with their mom.” Having goals instead of entering into long-term talk therapy can help you make the most of your appointments.
Nothing is as important as your relationship with your children. Don’t allow your ex to interfere. Learn how to process and manage your emotions so you don’t affect your kids.
Have tips on how to keep from losing your cool? Comment below.