Today, I want to talk more about your parenting plan. A few weeks ago, I posed the question, “If you are co-parenting with a toxic ex, have you given thought to what you want your parenting plan to look like?” I want to expound on that.

Maybe you have given thought to what you want your parenting plan to look like. Maybe you already have a parenting plan in place.

I tell my workshop attendees who are in the middle of toxic and/or high conflict co-parenting to document, document, document. I say this because, if they are co-parenting with a toxic ex and their parenting plan needs some modifying, then their documentation could prove helpful to that process.

For each thing you need to put in your parenting plan and for even the plan-building of a standard plan, I think it is important to give careful consideration to the specifics of your plan. The reason and purpose for that is, everything that needs to be in your plan is related to your relationship with your ex, but if your relationship is toxic, then it is even more important to have a focus be on the specifics.

A standard parenting plan and agreement may not work for your situation, if you are dealing with a toxic ex. As I said in a previous column, you may have the best intentions for following a standard plan, but a toxic ex could possibly have an agenda.

This whole putting a parenting plan together may require you to be very focused on the specifics, so that there is no room for a gray area, so there is not room for manipulation of your parenting plan, and so there is no room for a misunderstanding. When I wrote earlier in this series about boundaries, this is just one of them.

It is OK to set a boundary within your parenting plan, but one that is a workable standard and a workable and respectful expectation. That is the goal.

If regaining control and setting boundaries is what is needed to remove the toxic atmosphere and the toxicity from the relationship you have with your ex, then as I said, it is all very needed.

Don’t be afraid. That being said, are you afraid, and if you are, what are you afraid of? For those who are dealing with and co-parenting with a toxic ex, they may be finding themselves for the first time in a position that is unfamiliar to them, in that they may now have a voice for taking control of their circumstance.

I encourage you to put together a workable plan, one that cannot be easily manipulated. I encourage you to maybe have your plan be standard in outline, knowing there is nothing wrong with creating a plan that fits the needs for removing the toxic atmosphere, not just for you, but for your child(ren) as well. That is what this is all about. The plan that you create should be one that is workable yes, but healthy for the children. All of this is to ensure the removal of toxicity from your co-parenting relationship with your ex, as well as creating a plan that will be emotionally healthy for the children.

As I have said in previous columns, these types of changes may be necessary for toxic, high conflict co-parenting. That being said, while you are implementing change to your circumstance, you must continue to encourage and support a healthy relationship with your child(ren) and their other parent.

A co-parenting goal is still to co-parent in a way that has the least amount of tension and upset on the child(ren).

I hope you all have a great week.

Kari Clemmer, a DeKalb High School graduate, is author and instructor of The Co-Parenting Workshop and instructs co-parenting education in Dallas, Texas. Visit the “Co-Parenting Basics” Facebook page for more co-parenting information and live co-parenting lessons.

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