How To Set Boundaries With An Ex-Partner – The counsellors at Horizon Plymouth deal with the lasting effects of parental alienation following a separation or divorce every day. These effects are far-reaching and impact everyone involved, not just the children (although they are often the ones most heavily affected).
The team at Horizon Plymouth have published several blog posts about the signs and symptoms, effects, and solutions for parental alienation. If you would like to understand more about these elements of parental alienation, please take the time to browse the information contained in those articles. In this article, we will be discussing the best way to reduce the impacts of parental alienation—to prevent it from happening in the first place. Setting early boundaries with your ex-partner can be an effective way to help protect your children from parental alienation and reduce the consequences of a high-conflict split with your partner.
- Understand that you can’t control everything your ex does: Setting boundaries regarding behavior can be difficult, as it’s tempting to want to change the actions of your ex. However, certain aspects will not change, and understanding this can help you to focus on the things that you can control.
- Set communication expectations: This applies to both in-person and virtual communication and looks different depending on the individuals involved. It might look like setting specific times or “office hours” when communication can happen, or limiting communication to phone calls, texts, or email. It is also important to keep child-related communication brief and logistical—no arguments, opinions, or back-and-forth.
- Keep it simple: Set parameters upfront about the big aspects of parenting that are important to you, but keep the details simple and as hands-off as possible. Reducing hostilities can help to prevent parental alienation, as intense back-and-forth arguments only serve to further deteriorate the coparenting relationship.
- Remember to give and take: With a toxic ex it can sometimes be hard to allow them a “win” when they make demands. However, remembering that this is about the children and not about who is perceived to have won can be a helpful reminder when it comes to making concessions for the other partner in the name of hostility reduction.
- Remember not to take it personally: This is a very important boundary to set with yourself throughout the process. Verbal insults, gaslighting, and tossing the blame around is a common component of high conflict exes capable of parental alienation. Remember that these behaviours are not directly caused by you and instead reflect back on the individual themselves.
Navigating a divorce or separation with a high-conflict ex-partner is stress-inducing at the best of times, especially when children are involved, and it can be so difficult to navigate boundaries and co-parenting protocols with all of the negative emotions involved. Seeking outside help can provide you with clarity of mind from an unbiased party, guidance when it comes to setting boundaries, and a safe space to process the complicated emotions that come with a divorce or separation. In such a trying time, don’t neglect your mental health—help is available, and you are not alone as you navigate this difficult path.
If you believe that you or your children may be at risk for parental alienation from an ex-partner, it is very important to take steps to mitigate damages and reduce the long-lasting negative impacts of parental alienation for all parties involved. Working with a counsellor at Horizon Plymouth may help to improve outcomes by helping you or your children process emotions in a healthy manner and become more comfortable setting boundaries. Don’t wait for things to get worse, preventative actions are incredibly important in such situations. Contact the counsellors at Horizon Plymouth to schedule your initial consultation today.