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How can I co-parent when my ex is toxic?

Barring situations involving abuse or neglect, Washington courts prefer joint custody situations when couples divorce. While this is thought to be in the best interest of the child, it can be difficult, or even impossible, to deal with an ex you consider toxic. Psychology Today explains how you can navigate this situation to the best of your ability, to ensure you and your children are taken care of. 

The first step is to establish boundaries. For example, relegate all conversations to child-rearing matters alone. If your ex attempts to bring up other issues or goad you into an argument, don't take the bait. Instead, deflect the comments or avoid the altercation altogether. This is why it's good to keep contact with your ex minimal. You can communicate via phone, text, or email, which enables you to easily remove yourself from a conversation when it becomes uncomfortable. 

Some parents will excessively contact their child while he or she is in the other parent's care. If this is a problem in your parenting relationship, make rules about how much your child can communicate with your ex while in your care. While your child should be allowed to reach out to the other parent when he or she feels like it, the purpose of shared custody is so the child can develop a strong bond with both parents. In the same token, when your child is with your ex, try to limit contact to as well. 

You might find yourself still at odds even after taking the above steps. If so, try your best to keep an even-keeled persona, even when faced with bickering. Not only will this keep you emotionally healthy, it will also protect your child from experiencing distress. If you have trouble remaining calm, consider taking up yoga or meditation to help you maintain a handle on your emotions. 

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