I wish I could write today’s blog definitively and provide you with the ultimate tools for communicating with the other parent, especially if you have come to single parenting via an abusive marriage.
All I can really say is somehow I survived and so did the kids.
But I do have a few lessons I learned along the way.
Have as little voice communication as possible. At the nuclear plant I used to work at, we practiced ALARA. This means “as low as reasonably achievable,” when it comes to exposure to radiation. The same is true here, you would probably not be divorced from this person, if they were reasonable and cooperative. My ex did not stop trying to control and abuse me at the final dissolution hearing.
The problem with abusive phone and text messages is the continued exposure to the abuse. Setting up boundaries is almost always necessary.
When phone calls are necessary, hanging up is an option. My statement was, “You may not speak to me that way.” Then, I would hang up. Sometimes, he would say it when he knew he crossed the line, and hang up on himself. But, it is not at all necessary to tolerate abuse just because you must co-parent. Phone calls can be latent with inflections and trigger words, which violate you and mess with your progress of healing. Don’t think reasoning with them to stop will work either. End an abusive phone call every time it happens, protect yourself.
If your ex continues to misuse phone communication, let calls go to voice mail and screen them. They are more likely to get to the point that way, and if not, you can skip or delete.
Text messaging was not an option early on in my single parenting years. By the time it was common, many of my communication dilemmas had been reigned in. But, it has the potential for concern. If your ex is using text messaging to manipulate, cut it off. Let them know if they continue to be inappropriate you will be blocking them, and you will only accept voice mail or other forms of communication, like email or snail mail.
Most communication about the children can be handled via email or snail mail. Unless it is a last minute change, set the precident by emailing school events and others events or activities. Arrange changes to visitation or other issues of concern the same way.
Under some circumstances you may need to contact your lawyer or the police, especially if communication is threatening.
It’s highly unlikely that an abusive ex will stop abusing. You need to set up firm boundaries for what is and is not acceptable interaction. And generally, they will look for ways to thwart your efforts. Stand firm and enlist help, there is never a good reason to accept further abuse.
I would love to hear any ideas you may have on this topic, what has and has not worked in your situation. I am praying for you. Next up, “Drop off and Pick Ups, Exchanging Precious Cargo.”