Ideally, divorced parents would find it in themselves to be able to parent their children in a civil manner that puts their kids before themselves. This, as we all know, is not always the case and joint parenting efforts can turn ugly quickly. When this unfortunate truth becomes your reality, there are some steps you can take to make the best of a bad situation.
Communication is Key
Most if not all functioning partnerships are built around being able to effectively communicate and have a coherent exchange of ideas without things escalating to a point of hostility. When one or both parents are unable to get this done on their end, effectively parenting your child becomes nearly impossible, a sad reality for many divorced couples. First, boundaries must be set and maintained regarding acceptable behaviors from your ex. Without self-advocating, the hostile parent has little incentive to change their ways. Unfortunately, often even this is not enough to make them aware of their hostile behavior. This hostility can extend beyond face-to-face interactions and spill over into written forms of communication. At this point in the deterioration of a couple's communication, it may be time to consider a mediator of sorts. There are several companies out there that offer families services that facilitate discussions and parental planning through an external website. While a third-party communication system may seem extreme, sometimes it is the only way to get the hostile parent to think before they speak and can go a long way in making the other parent feel more comfortable in their communications. This isn't a first resort but can become a necessity if things are reaching a point where you are unable to parent effectively.
Keep Your Children Out of the Conflict
Keeping your children away from you and your ex's hostile situations can be extremely difficult, especially when bouts of anger come out of seemingly nowhere. It is clearly impossible to dictate your ex's actions or the respect they show for your children's well-being but there are steps you can take to minimize the damage done in these occurrences. Try your hardest not talk poorly or aggressively about the other parent and maintain as neutral of a stance as possible. This will involve quite a bit of tongue-biting but will be best for your child in the long-term. Knowing that you will not make negative remarks about the other parent will help your child feel comfortable in confiding in you and safe sharing their thoughts around you. That being said, if the other parent is saying negative things to the point that you're worried about the mental health and well-being of your child, it may be wise to seek legal intervention.
There is a ton of stress involved family separation and counseling can be a powerful tool in helping families cope. Counseling can be done individually or as a family and both methods can be very beneficial to your parenting efforts. If your ex is willing to see a family counselor, you may be able to work through the causes of some of their hostility and reach a point where you can try to put your differences aside and do what is best for your children. If they are not inclined to do so, a counselor could still be hugely helpful in helping you process your emotions surrounding this tough time and give some wisdom on how to most effectively tackle the situation.