Co-Parenting with a Toxic Ex – Book Review

co-parenting with toxic ex, blended family, stepmom, step family, toxic ex, toxic ex-spouse
This book has really opened my eyes to see where the ex-spouse may be coming from and also showed me what the children are going through when a parent is toxic.  In my own situation, it has helped me learn how to handle my stepchildren better. Helped me understand why they do and say the things they do.  This book is a big eye opener and has helped me to discover healthy parent strategies to overcome the hard times with my stepchildren.  Who are constantly facing extreme loyalty conflicts thanks to their mother who has successfully poisoned my stepchildren against me and my husband.
If you have gone through or are going through a messy divorce, sometimes the other parent will try to undermine the relationship you have with your children. This book will show you how to be a positive parent, gives great parent strategies and coping methods for a hostile ex-spouse.  In this book, you will learn how to avoid parental alienation and techniques on how to relate and talk to your children.
This book discusses five behaviors that co-parents use to induce loyalty conflict.  Those five behaviors are:
1. Sending Poisonous Messages about you
2. Interfering with Contact & Communication
3. Erasing & Replacing
4. Encouraging your Child to Betray your Trust
5. Undermining Your Authority and Fostering Dependency in your Child

It also goes over watching for the signs that your children are caught up in a loyalty conflict. The book helps you by giving you the right tools in how not to make mistakes when you are co-parenting with a toxic ex-spouse.
You will discover ways of how to become a positive parent even though you have a toxic ex-spouse to deal with.  There are core concepts of positive parenting and this book lays out great ways and how to accomplish that.  There are eight parent strategies that will help you deepen your bond with children that are going through hard loyalty conflicts due to your ex-spouse poisoning them against you.
Eight Parent Strategies:
1. Active Listening When your child is talking to you, nod and acknowledge that you are listening to them. Another way to acknowledge that you are listening to them is giving nonverbal cues and then use words to show you are listening to them for an example “I see” or “go on” then recite what they said to show that you understand them.  Active listening also involves asking questions about what they told you and then lastly offering to problem solve it.  However, not everything needs to be solved or fixed; they might just need someone to talk too.
2. Nondirective Attention 
Give them your undivided attention which means, no distractions when they are talking to you.  That means put down the cell phone or turn off of the TV to show them that they have your undivided attention.  As Amy Baker co-author of Co-parenting with a Toxic Ex states that when you engage in nondirective attention, you’re as fully present as possible, but your child runs the show.  Try to show your child nondirective attention a little every day, because it really shows the child that you are interested in what they have to say and it also makes them feel important.
3. Praise & Encouragement 
Try to find ways to encourage them.  Then find ways to praise them whenever they do something right.  Give them positive attention like hugs, smiles and words of admiration.
4. Emotion Coaching Anytime you feel an emotion talk about it with your child and label that emotion that way the child learns from your example and then will start to label their own emotions when they have them.  Try to always validate your child’s feelings when they are expressed.  Make sure they know it’s okay to have those feelings.  An example of a validation is saying “It’s okay to feel that way right now. I would feel that way too if it happened to me too.” Model how to cope with their feelings of emotions.  Always encourage them to label what kind of emotion they are feeling.
5. Training 
Sometimes our children need to be trained on how to do something that is required of them to do.  It could be a really hard adjustment when they don’t know how to do something and are afraid to ask for help.
6. Inviting Cooperation 
Providing an invitation to help out with something might be a great way of getting them to help out more with things without having to ask them directly.  For example: “If anyone wants to help me make dinner, feel free to come join me now.”  It’s a different way of asking for help and it might work with some children.
7. Offering Choices 
Instead of saying no to a request they made try to offer the child reasonable choices that you would like.  For example: instead of asking “Do you want to take a shower”, ask this instead: “Do you want to take a shower before or after dinner”.  If there is something your child must do but you don’t want to hear them say No to it, offer a choice in the question of it leading to doing the task you want them to do anyways.
8. Family Meetings When children are having a hard time adjusting to things within a blended family.  It’s good to have family meetings about things.  Every new blended family should be having family meetings in order to help adjust to the family dynamic.  As Amy Baker co-author of Co-parenting with a Toxic Ex states that having family meetings help build family cohesion which helps strengthen family bonds and prevent conflicts and discord.  To learn more about family meetings and how to create them, click here.

The book also helps you develop and create great disciplinary strategies that involve healthy consequences that deal with the “Four R’s”.  The Four R’s are Related, Reasonable, Revealed and Respectful.  Overall it has been said by Amy Baker and Paul Fine that the stronger the bond of love between you and your child, the less susceptible your child will be to your ex’s undermining and interference.
Another concept I took away from this book is how to learn to use positive self-talk when dealing with difficult acquisitions or conversations with the children.  I learned that my thoughts can defeat and paralyze me if I don’t be careful.  I learned to let go of the negative self-talk and learned how to develop positive self-talk.
Overall, I just can’t say enough great things about this book.  If you have a toxic ex-spouse, this book is a Must Read.  I wish I would have read this book sooner because it would have helped us more early on when we really needed the help the most.  There’s a lot to be learned in this book that will help you get through the hard times with your stepchildren or biological children who are going through hard loyalty conflicts due to a toxic ex-spouse.  Your time with your children is going by fast; learn how to overcome this struggle before you live with regret. I live with a lot of regrets after reading this book, wishing I would have read it a lot sooner.  After everything, we have already been through with my stepchildren and their biological mother.  Don’t live with regret, read this book now and learn how to make a difference in your children’s lives, learn how to deepen your bond with them and help them overcome being stuck in the middle.

If your stepchildren or biological children went through loyalty conflicts, how did you handle it?

Amy L. Baker & Paul R. Fine (2014). Co-parenting with a Toxic Ex. What to Do When Your Ex-Spouse Tries to Turn the Kids Against You. New Harbinger Publications.

Published by Michelle T

Stepmom for 19 years overall, married for 10 years. I have three of my own children and three stepchildren who are adults now.

12 thoughts on “Co-Parenting with a Toxic Ex – Book Review

  1. We give our children lots of praise in our home. It is so important for parents to acknowledge that children are a big part of the family and should be included in making decisions. This seems like a helpful and resourceful book that could parents when dealing with a variety of life issues.


  2. I need more input from men when dealing with half toxic/half i don't care involve to start seating this meeting. tips in how to approach ex wife. 1 daughter 15 1 son 10, any positive suggestions will be appreciated it<


  3. I need more input from men when dealing with half toxic/half i don't care involve to start seating this meeting. tips in how to approach ex wife. 1 daughter 15 1 son 10, any positive suggestions will be appreciated it<


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