Contribution Author: Jennifer Dawson
Roughly 50% of American marriages end in divorce, which means the percentage of people co-parenting is even higher. Even with an amicable ex, this is a difficult task, but there are some tips and tricks to make it easier. However, if you’re raising your child with the help of a bully, there is a whole new set of challenges ahead. How do you take the best care of both yourself and your children?
Bullies Of All Ages
While your child may deal with playground bullies at school, the adult versions can be even harder to manage — especially if they aren’t someone you can easily cut out of your life. It’s very likely that their behavior contributed to your separation, and it’s also likely that you’ll still feel the negative effects afterward as well. Anxiety and stress can manifest in physical ways, so you’ll need to set firm boundaries in order to protect yourself. Try to keep communication short and exclusively about topics directly affecting your children — things involving visitation, health, grades, and general well-being. Keeping the conversation focused on them will limit the opportunities your ex has to make potentially hurtful comments about your life.
Supporting Your Children
It is possible for children to be negatively affected by divorce, especially if one of the parents is a bully, so your job is to support them to the best of your abilities, no matter the situation. Your kids will need a positive role model for their future relationships, so being openly resentful to your former spouse is not option — even if that spouse is doing that to you. Chances are, your children are being exposed to toxic behavior from your bullying ex, so you need to set a better example. This means no arguments should happen where they can see or hear them, and no speaking negatively about their other parent directly to them. Maintaining a stable, happy front will make your child more likely to come to you for help, giving you an opportunity to listen, support and praise them.
On top of being emotionally stable and staying civil for your children, make sure you know your rights when it comes to custody. Referencing legal documents can end many arguments about visitation or child support, with clear guidelines to help you choose the right path. Again, you want your children to view you with the utmost respect, and to be able to trust you when they need help. Listen to your child’s wants and needs, and find a legal, amicable way to solve problems without involving them directly. Whether they realize it now, or 15 years from now, the effects of your hard work will resonate with them, and they will be thankful for your gracious example