Dealing with an Aggressive Co-parent

Women and Divorce
Wendi Schuller
Author of
The Global Guide to Divorce

It is a challenge to co-parent with an aggressive person post-divorce.

They may have difficulties letting go when they are not on duty. They attempt to parent from afar, thus complicating your life.

Prevention is the way to go if still in divorce negotiations. Get an extremely detailed Parenting Plan which spells out exactly when each parent has the children and addresses how school holidays are split.

An aggressive ex-spouse is less likely to walk all over you when you can point out that an issue is already covered in the Parenting Plan.

Some individuals have trouble letting go and accepting that the other parent is in charge of the youngsters part-time.

This is where setting boundaries is important. If the aggressive parent is bombarding the kids with phone calls or texts during your time, set limits. To avoid them getting defensive, say “How about we each limit contact with the kids to once a day?” Or “Instead of us calling the boys when not with them, let them initiate contact.”

When the suggestion goes both ways, it makes in more impersonal.

Try to think about the other parent’s motivation with their actions. Are they aggressive in other situations, such as on the job or is it only with you after divorce?  If you are the main target, then their behaviour may be due to anger and hostility.

Perhaps meet on neutral territory, such as in a coffee shop or café, to discuss what is going on with them. If that person feels that they are really being listened to, that in itself can lead to a better post-divorce relationship.

The other parent may micromanage as part of their nature. Coming up with a daily schedule for meals, naps and bedtimes that you both use, can reduce their need for control. They may become more relaxed when the kids’ routine is in sync at both houses.

A therapist stated that when there is an aggressive parent, the children can be caught in the crossfire.

An aggressive parent may use the children as a weapon to score a point in a perceived battle of wits. Remind this individual that co-parenting is about putting the children first. Say “I feel that the girls are affected by our disagreements. Let’s act in a calmer manner for their sake.”

Keep the focus on the youngsters, when the aggressive one may be starting a verbal attack. Redirect them back to what is best for your offspring.

One teacher has this suggestion when dealing with an aggressive parent. Each one has X number of minutes to talk uninterrupted.

Then the other parent has the same amount of time for their turn. This prevents the aggressor from butting in and cutting off the other parent before they are through expressing their views.

If a dialogue with the other parent is not working, ask them to go to a mediator with you. A session can get the situation on track and reduce stress. If the other parent refuses to meet with a third party, go alone to a divorce coach.

The coach will help come up with specific strategies for dealing with your co-parent. Make sure that you have your own support system to get you through the turbulent times and see the lighter side of life.


Wendi Schuller is a nurse, hypnotherapist and is certified in Neuro-linguistic Programing (NLP).

Her most recent book is The Global Guide to Divorce and she has over 200 published articles.

She is a guest on radio programs in the US and UK. Her website is

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