In any situation, co-parenting can be difficult. But it can be particularly challenging when your ex suffers from an addiction. In addition to financial instability, legal troubles, and erratic behavior, addiction can cause a range of problems. It may also be difficult for you to communicate and cooperate with your ex since he or she can't control their choices and behaviors.
Furthermore, addiction can have a profound and lasting impact on children. As a result of growing up with an addicted parent, children are exposed to an unpredictable and unstable world. Conflicts and behaviors related to addiction can have long-term psychological effects. Eventually, children might internalize the chaos, resulting in anxiety, low self-esteem, and difficulties forming healthy relationships.
While sober parents and children may have to deal with the impacts of addiction, the following suggestions may help.
Educate yourself on addiction and substance abuse.
Sober parents can learn how to help their co-parent recover from addiction, or at least peacefully coexist with them. To get the best understanding of addiction and substance abuse, he or she should gather as much information as possible.
There are many resources available online that can help you learn more about addiction, such as:
Al-Anon. An ongoing source of support for people who go to meetings about addiction.
Narcotics Anonymous. An organization that specializes in 12-step programs.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. Data on the effects of heavy drinking and the causes of alcoholism.
Get Smart About Drugs. A DEA resource that includes information on different drugs for parents, educators, and caregivers.
Alcohol.org. Information and resources about alcohol's impact on families and public health.
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Provides an online tool for assessing drinking habits.
Organizations, hotlines, and support groups are also available to help those dealing with addiction-related challenges. Getting in touch with these people can provide you with valuable information and give you a network of people who understand you.
In addition, it is important to know how to properly discuss divorce with your children.
Establish healthy boundaries.
While you can show compassion, setting healthy boundaries is essential when we co-parent. This is especially true when the other parent is struggling with addiction. After all, we cannot feel comfortable or safe exposing ourselves or our children to it, despite understanding their struggle.
When and how your children see your co-parent will need to be set if you are concerned about drug or alcohol use. Instead of an in-person visit, maybe you'll talk on the phone or FaceTime. Perhaps it's after school or Saturday morning.
A family law professional can assist you in setting healthy boundaries if you have shared custody of your children. When severe substance abuse develops, parenting time and custody agreements need to be reevaluated. In case you need to modify your parenting agreement, you can talk to a family law professional.
Communicate directly and effectively.
Communication with your ex is essential, even if it may be difficult. To do this, you have to be clear and direct about your expectations, as well as willing to listen to what your ex expects from you.
As well as avoiding arguing and name-calling, it is important to be respectful.
Consider a new custody arrangement.
Parents who suspect their co-parent abuses drugs can request a modification of their custody arrangements. At the same time, a judge is unlikely to award sole custody to a sober parent without proof that the addicted parent is endangering the child. As a result, those reporting must gather sufficient evidence from third parties. Moreover, a family attorney can assist in gathering relevant evidence for the court's consideration.
In order for custody to be successfully switched, the court needs to see the following evidence.
There is a threat to the health and development of children in the current environment.
A change of circumstances or a change in preference by a child over the age of 12.
Changes requested are in the children's best interests.
Seek professional help.
Getting professional help may be helpful if you are struggling to co-parent with an ex with an addiction. You can also get support and guidance from a therapist if you need strategies for coping and communication skills.
It is possible to help them recognize the problem and seek treatment by gently and compassionately addressing the issue. A variety of methods can be considered, including heartfelt discussions and involving a professional interventionist. There are many ways to heal and recover from addiction, including therapy, counseling, rehabilitation, and support groups.
Remember that you are not alone.
There are many others who co-parent with a dependent ex. In addition to online support groups, there are also in-person groups available. They provide a safe place for people to share their experiences and get support from others who know what they are going through.
If your ex is struggling with addiction, here are some tips for co-parenting:
Be consistent. No matter how inconsistent your ex may be, you should be consistent with your parenting. Your child will feel loved and secure as a result.
Be patient. Effective co-parenting isn't easy with an ex with an addiction. Things aren't going to change overnight.
Be flexible. Inevitably, things will arise that neither of you can control. If changes need to be made to your co-parenting plan, be flexible.
Put your child first. Keep your child's needs in mind at all times. When making decisions for them, you have to make them according to their best interests, even if they are not easy to make.
Aside from the above, here are some additional ways you can protect your child:
Provide your child with age-appropriate information about addiction.
You shouldn't badmouth your ex if you know about his or her addiction.
Make sure your child knows the rules and expectations when they visit their other parent.
Be aware of any behavioral or emotional changes in your child.
If you need help, seek it out.
A co-parenting relationship with an addicted ex can be challenging, but it is a vital one. You can make your life and your child's easier by following these tips.