Does your passive aggressive co-parent make your blood boil? Does he fail to honor his agreements? Does she avoid direct confrontation by communicating with you through your children? The first step to managing your passive-aggressive ex is to understand why they behave the way they do.
The Passive Aggressive Mentality
Passive aggressive people hide their own hostility while provoking hostility in others. They use indirect means to resist requests, break rules, and express anger. Examples of passive-aggressive behavior include:
– Refusal to communicate in a timely manner.
– Scheduling special activities with the kids during your parenting time.
– Consistently paying child support late.
– Doing the opposite of what he promises.
– Giving you the silent treatment while using the kids as messengers.
– Acting in a provocative manner then blaming you when you finally explode, i.e.: “How can we co-parent when you’re always over-reacting?!”
– Using personal information against you.
5 Strategies for Dealing with Your Passive-Aggressive Ex
Getting mad will just “prove” to your ex that you’re the problem. Trying to call them out on their behavior is a waste of energy and will probably make things worse. They’ll deny any wrongdoing, act persecuted, and increase their passive-aggressive shenanigans.
So how do you co-parent with someone who’s inherently secretive and manipulative?
Follow these tips to disarm your passive-aggressive ex:
1. Remain calm. Losing your cool will just make your ex feel that she’s “won” and is likely to invite more covert aggression. Save your venting for a journal, therapy session, or kick-boxing lesson.
2. Focus on the positive. If you’re feeling angry and drained a lot of the time, that’s probably because your ex is projecting her own anger onto you. Shift your mood by focusing on what’s going well. Writing a daily gratitude list can help you concentrate on the good things in your life.
3. Model appropriate behavior to your kids. You can’t control how your ex acts, but you can teach your kids how grown-ups ought to behave. Don’t resort to criticizing your co-parent; instead, focus on teaching your kids effective communication and relationship skills.
4. Set limits. Getting angry or lecturing won’t stop your co-parent from pushing boundaries. Protect yourself by stating your limits and staying firm. If your ex is violating the court order, contact your attorney.
5. Stick to facts. Expressing your feelings or sharing personal details will just give your co-parent information to use against you. Communicate only what’s required for co-parenting, with as little personality as possible!
Understanding how your passive-aggressive co-parent thinks will help you anticipate and deflect their hostility. And don’t waste time fuming. Be grateful that you no longer live with this person and focus on creating a meaningful life.
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How To Deal With a High-Conflict Co-Parent